On Tuesday, it was announced that Paul Beatty is the 2016 Man Booker Prize winner for The Sellout. The prize — one of the top literary awards for English-language authors — was announced live.
Beatty is the first American to win the award. The Sellout is a satire about a young black man who reinstates slavery and segregation in the local high school in an attempt to save his California town, Dickens. His actions eventually land him in the Supreme Court.
The prize was previously restricted to include only books written by authors who were citizens of Britain, Ireland, or the Commonwealth. But in 2013, the eligibility was opened to include any English-language novel published in the UK, regardless of the author's nationality.
Beatty author beat out finalists Deborah Levy for Hot Milk, Graeme Macrae Burnet for His Bloody Project, fellow American Ottessa Moshfegh for Eileen, David Szalay for All That Man Is, and Madeleine Thien for Do Not Say We Have Nothing to take home the prestigious award. The five finalists were selected from a list of 155 novels, which was whittled to 13 books ('The Booker's Dozen'), then further narrowed to a shortlist of six novels.
The winner — who will receive £50,000 ($61,000) for the prize — was chosen by a panel of five judges: historian, columnist and author Dr. Amanda Foreman, writer and academic Jon Day, literature professor and editor Abdulrazak Gurnah, poet, author, and professor of creative writing David Harsent, and actress Olivia Williams.
The Man Booker Prize was established in 1969 to award the best English-language novel published in the UK in a given year. The sister prize, The Man Booker International Prize for Fiction, is awarded to the best book translated into English in a given year. Both awards have been sponsored by the investment firm Man Group (hence the name) since 2002.