The 2016 Tournament of Books - Quarterfinals, Day Four

The 2016 Tournament of Books - Quarterfinals, Day Four

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler vs. The Sellout by Paul Beatty

I think my dislike of Anne Tyler and this novel has been well established. Tyler's novel is like the house in her novel - well-constructed.

Beatty's novel, though, is more than that. On a purely sentence by sentence comparison, Beatty wins by a mile. This is a book where the author is interested in humor, where he's trying to make a point, and those two facts give the sentences a weight and an energy

The book is complicated and there's a rhythm to it that might be hard for some people to get into, but if you let yourself follow the rhythm and give yourself over to the story's twists and turns - and after the prologue which involves smoking up outside the Supreme Court and then entering the chamber to find the black justice break his silence is an unexpected way - you should.

And for all the talk about how the book is about race - and it is. It's also a story about fathers and sons, it's about learned behavior, about how we react to our upbringing and fight against it, how we become our parents and how we grow to become someone in reaction to them.

In a week where Paul Beatty has received the National Book Critic Circle Award, advancing into the next round for the Rooster is probably a small thing, but The Sellout deserves every award it receives (and then some).

Verdict:  The Sellout

At The Tournament:  The Sellout

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