Man Booker Prize winning novel takes satirical view of race relations in US

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American author Paul Beatty has been handed the Man Booker Prize for The Sellout - a satirical take on modern race relations in the US.

The win makes Beatty, 54, who teaches at Columbia University, the first American to be awarded the prize in its 48 year history.

paul beatty is given a copy of his book from the duchess of cornwall (John Phillips/PA)
(John Phillips/PA)

Born in Los Angeles, California in 1962, Beatty left home at 17 to study at Boston University, eventually ending up at Brooklyn College in New York for a creative writing and poetry course.

The Sellout, set in LA and which includes the fallout of the unjust shooting of an African-American at the hands of the police, was described by judges as a "novel of our times".

They added it "takes aim at racial and political taboos with wit, verve and a snarl".

The New York-based writer has previously told the Paris Review that he was "surprised" that everybody keeps calling The Sellout a comic novel, adding: "I'm not sure how I define it."

Published by independent publishers Oneworld - who also won in 2015 with Marlon James' A Brief History of Seven Killings in - The Sellout was also handed the National Book Critics Circle Award.

It his Beatty's fourth novel, following on from Slumberland, Tuff and his 1996 debut The White Boy Shuffle which explores gang culture in LA.

He has also published two books of poetry, Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce and in 2006 edited an anthology of African-American Humour - Hokum.