June 2, 2017
by Paul Beatty
This manically detailed portrait of an imaginary Negro* haven risks total comic oversaturation with every turn of the page, to make the paradoxical point that we Americans simply can't see what's staring us in the face. Paul Beatty is a perceptive critic of the photographic image (for The New York Times) & the sharpness of his eye is evident in his sardonic skewering of every hypocrisy he sees. Satirically, he implies that separation of the races would be better for the oppressed side of the equation, who--in having to expend so much energy explaining to white folk just how duplicitously ignorant & shameful they have been--exhaust themselves away from a true sense of freedom & self. What confounds about 'The Sellout' is Beatty's skewering of his own, a prosodic, comedic notion that black self-loathing, imbued by the vengeful post-bellum atmosphere that still lingers in American politics, is as much at fault for our yawning divide as any other guilty condition. This white reader is grateful, at least, for a more complete & nuanced understanding of the gap between us, if not for the suggestion that it might be, in the end, ultimately unbridgeable. .
*The term is employed here in the spirit of the author's retrogressive satire.