Paul Beatty has become the first American to win the prestigious Man Booker literary prize for a satirical look at race relations in the US. The awards ceremony has been held at the Guildhall in London.
Paul Beatty was awarded the 50,000-pound ($61,000) Man Booker Prize at a ceremony at London's Guildhall on Tuesday evening for his novel "The Sellout," a satire that looks at issues of racial equality in a Los Angeles neighborhood.
The Man Booker judges described the work as "the novel of our time."
The book's the narrator finds himself before the Supreme Court after he attempts to reinstate segregation and slavery in his small municipality. "There's comedy in the book, but there's a bunch of other stuff in there, too. It's easy just to hide behind the humour, and then you don't have to talk about anything else," Beatty said about his novel.
Beatty was born in 1962. He earned a psychology degree from Boston University and went on to receive a master of fine arts in creative writing from Brooklyn College. He wrote two volumes of poetry before starting to write fiction His other novels include "The White Boy Shuffle" (1996), "Tuff" (2000) and "Slumberland" (2008).
This year's shortlist of nominees for the Man Booker Prize included two British writers, two Canadians and two Americans. They were Deborah Levy (UK) for "Hot Milk" (Hamish Hamilton), Graeme Macrae Burnet (UK) for "His Bloody Project" (Contraband), Ottessa Moshfegh (US) for "Eileen" (Jonathan Cape), David Szalay (Canada-UK) for "All That Man Is" (Jonathan Cape) and Madeleine Thien (Canada) for "Do Not Say We Have Nothing" (Granta Books). The shortlisted authors each receive 2,500 pounds ($3,047) and a specially bound edition of their book.
The books cover a range of subjects, from murder in 19th century Scotland to classical music in revolutionary China.
The Booker Prize was established in 1968 to honor the best English-language novel from the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, Ireland and Zimbabwe and has become one of the most prestigious awards in fiction. The prize was expanded in 2014 to include entrants from the broader English-speaking world, including the USA.
Previous winners have included Salman Rushdie, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Margaret Atwood.
The first Booker Prize, as it was then known, was given to P.H. Newby's novel "Something to Answer For." Last year, the winner of the award was Marlon James, the first winner from Jamaica.
For the first time, the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) has ensured that braille versions of the shortlisted books were available in time for the announcement. The Booker Prize Foundation has a longstanding partnership with RNIB to provide Man Booker Prize books to the tens of thousands of blind and partially sighted members of the RNIB Library.
jm/gsw (Reuters, AP)