Under the Black Flag

How to Win Fame and Fortune

American writers are on a roll.  Bob Dylan wins the Nobel Prize for Literature (for backward children), and Paul Beatty the Booker Prize, the first American to do so because only Brits were considered in previous years.

Beatty was the unanimous choice, and it’s easy to see why: He’s a black American, the book is unreadable, and it explores the legacy of slavery and racial and economic inequality in America.  Oh, yes, I almost forgot: The judges did mention that at a time when police violence in America against black people is at an all-time high—news to me, I thought it was the other way round, but I’m a dumb European—Americans should be forced to confront the country’s history of racism.

Some critics of The Sellout hinted it might not appeal to everyone because of its exhaustive use of the N-word and other stereotypical portrayals of black Americans.  Bah, critics—what do they know?  The New York Times raved about the novel, as did all of the usual suspects.  I haven’t read The Sellout and do not plan to, so I would be doing a disservice to you, gentle reader, if I wrote that its historical sensitivity left me cold, as did the language.  Unlike that other con man, Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose novel (posing as nonfiction) Between the World and Me has been on the bestseller list for over a year, Paul Beatty looks...

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