The 2016 Tournament of Books - Day Nine

The 2016 Tournament of Books - Day Nine

The Sellout by Paul Beatty vs The Invaders by Karolina Waclawiak

Here's the thing, I live in Connecticut. I was born here. I am well aware that for many people Connecticut is nothing more than a few suburbs where rich people who commute into NYC live in palatial estates - whether they can afford them or not. So reading the dust jacket of The Invaders I rolled my eyes. But I love good social satire, I love a skewering of rich clueless people when done well.

The Invaders main problem is that it's not that exciting. The main character is passive and so much is conveyed not through action, not even through dialogue, but through internal monologue. And I understand the basic idea of the book, and the question is, how does one best convey a passive internal character, but it's far too easy to simply let the character wallow in their own thoughts

The Sellout by contrast is not passive or internal, it is active, funny, wild, and full of energy. It's dark and hilarious and a lot of people have called it satire - and I understand why people would say that - but to my mind satire doesn't really describe it. There's an energy to Beatty's prose. The language is just so incredible. Admittedly for people who would rather not read the n-word - it gets used liberally in the book - I can certainly understand some of my friends preferring to avoid the book.

I do think that simply reading the opening scene which is obscene and hilarious, is a good way to test whether the book is your cup of tea. In it we meet our protagonist who is getting stoned in front of the Supreme Court before walking inside where among things, Justice Thomas breaks his long silence in a somewhat atypical exchange.

This is an odd matchup - or maybe a perfect matchup - because Beatty's prose feels the opposite of Waclawiak's in so many ways. One I loved and one left me cold. An easy choice.

My Pick:  The Sellout.

Over at the Tournament:  The Sellout

With that, the first round of the tournament is over. Counting the play-in round, I'm 7/9 in my tournament picks - and both my losses relate to Anne Tyler's novel which left me cold and others seem to love with a passion I just do not understand whatsoever.

Onto Round Two!

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