What a great book to start the new year! Truly, it’s a brilliant satire which smacks everyone within range of any kind of racial issue in the US – an equal opportunity blitz of stings from the absurdist set-up to some very real problems. As a result, it was the winner of last year’s Man Booker Prize, the only US author to ever win that little number, in addition to other awards plus glowing reviews from all over the English-speaking world. It was also the discussion book choice of two of my reading groups.
by Paul Beatty
2015/ 304 pages
read by Prentice Onayemi
rating – 9
Mesmerizing and very funny I gave it chuckles and laugh-out-louds along with several nods to the serious reality of the unstated.
The story opens at the Supreme Court where the protagonist, identifying himself as “Me,” is fighting for his right to own a slave and enforce segregation on his farm in an extinct southern suburb of urban Los Angeles. It’s now just an area which used to be called Dickens. It’s extinct because the neighboring communities have, over the years, incorporated pieces of it into themselves. “Me” lives on his family farm, known for great fruit, where he grew up being home-schooled by his father. When his father dies “Me” inherits the place and grows melons and marijuana with the help of Hominy Jenkins, his volunteer slave. “Me” really wants the old Dickens back – but on his terms.
So our hero, such as “Me” is, tries to reestablish the community as a segregated and slave-holdng community beginning with Hominy Jenkins, the last of the “Little Rascals, who has become “Me’s” very own volunteer slave. He makes adjustments to the schools and re-orients the stores. – Oh it’s interesting what all brought him to the point of standing in front of the Supreme Court of the United States. .
Here are some reviews but really – don’t read them – go read the book!
The Financial Times (by Simon Schama): https://www.ft.com/content/4b9f8a4e-3222-11e6-bda0-04585c31b153