Novelist Paul Beatty has become the first American writer to win the prestigious Man Booker Prize for Fiction.
The judges called Beatty’s The Sellout a “searing satire on race relations in contemporary America.”
The Man Booker prize is awarded each year for the best original novel written in the English language and published in the U.K. Before 2014, only citizens of the British Commonwealth, Ireland and Zimbabwe were eligible; beginning in that year, the citizenship requirement was dropped.
The New York Times described Beatty’s work as a “metaphorical multicultural pot almost too hot to touch.” The Guardian said in an era of Black Lives Matter, Beatty’s book is “an exhilarating addition to the Booker hall of heroes.”
In accepting the award October 25, Beatty said, “I don’t want to get all dramatic — [that] writing saved my life or anything — but writing’s given me a life.”
Paul Beatty becomes first US author to win @ManBookerPrize, worth £50,000https://t.co/1zK3POupnf https://t.co/W7tgrVEnNF
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) October 25, 2016
Beatty wins £50,000 and a trophy. He also receives a designer bound edition of his book and a further £2,500 for being shortlisted.
Beatty is a 54-year-old New York resident born in Los Angeles. His competition on the 2016 shortlist included two British and two U.S. writers and one Canadian and one British-Canadian writer.
Learn more about race in the U.S., including what President Obama, in his own words, says about race.