Paul Beatty

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Paul Beatty
Born 1962 (age 53–54)
Los Angeles, California
Occupation Author, poet
Genre Fiction, poetry

Paul Beatty (born 1962) is a contemporary American author.


Born in Los Angeles in 1962, Beatty received an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College and an MA in psychology from Boston University. He is a 1980 graduate of El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills, California.

In 1990, Beatty was crowned the first ever Grand Poetry Slam Champion of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.[1] One of the prizes for winning the championship title was the book deal that resulted in his first volume of poetry, Big Bank Takes Little Bank (1991).[2] This was followed by another book of poetry Joker, Joker, Deuce (1994) and appearances performing his poetry on MTV and PBS (in the series The United States of Poetry).[3] In 1993, he was awarded a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award.

His first novel, The White Boy Shuffle (1996), received a positive review in The New York Times from reviewer Richard Bernstein, who called the book "a blast of satirical heat from the talented heart of black American life."[4] His second book, Tuff (2000), received a positive notice in Time Magazine.[5] In 2006, Beatty edited an anthology of African-American humor called Hokum and wrote an article in The New York Times on the same subject.[6] His 2008 novel Slumberland was about an American DJ in Berlin.

In his 2015 novel The Sellout, Beatty chronicles an urban farmer who tries to spearhead a revitalization of slavery and segregation in a fictional Los Angeles neighborhood. In The Guardian Elisabeth Donnelly described it as "a masterful work that establishes Beatty as the funniest writer in America",[7] while reviewer Reni Eddo-Lodge called it a "of a satire", going on to say: "Everything about The Sellout’s plot is contradictory. The devices are real enough to be believable, yet surreal enough to raise your eyebrows."[8] The Sellout was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.[9] In September 2016 it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.[10][11]

Awards and honors[edit]


Edited volume[edit]

  • Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor (2006)



  1. ^ Aptowicz, Cristin O'Keefe (2008), Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam. Soft Skull Press, p. 45. ISBN 1-933368-82-9.
  2. ^ Aptowicz, p. 46.
  3. ^ Aptowicz, p. 80.
  4. ^ "Black Poet's First Novel Aims the Jokes Both Ways", The New York Times, 31 May 1996.
  5. ^ "Tuff", Time Magazine, 1 May 2000.
  6. ^ "Black Humor", The New York Times, 22 January 2006.
  7. ^ Elisabeth Donnelly, "Paul Beatty on writing, humor and race: 'There are very few books that are funny'", The Guardian, March 10, 2015.
  8. ^ Reni Eddo-Lodge, "The Sellout by Paul Beatty review – a whirlwind satire about racial identity", The Guardian, May 11, 2016.
  9. ^ Sukhdev Sandhu, "Paul Beatty: ‘Slam poetry, TED talks: they’re for short attention spans’", The Guardian, June 24, 2016.
  10. ^ Sameer Rahim, "Man Booker Prize shortlist 2016: Paul Beatty's The Sellout is an outrageous racial satire – review", The Telegraph, September 13, 2016.
  11. ^ "Man Booker Prize announces 2016 shortlist", The Man Booker Prize, September 13, 2016.
  12. ^ Alexandra Alter (March 17, 2016). "'The Sellout' Wins National Book Critics Circle's Fiction Award". The New York Times. Retrieved March 18, 2016. 
  13. ^ Bernstein, Richard (May 31, 1996). "BOOKS OF THE TIMES; Black Poet's First Novel Aims the Jokes Both Ways". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 5, 2016. 

External links[edit]