READ: "The Sellout" by Paul Beatty
Given our country's current political climate, satire is the literary genre we need the most, for both its critical perspective and its comedic relief, and Paul Beatty's "The Sellout" should be the satirical novel at the top of your to-read list.
The protagonist (a.k.a The Sellout), an ingenious black farmer born and raised in Dickens, a Southern California city described as an "agrarian ghetto," tells the story of how he ended up in front of the Supreme Court. After his father is killed by the police and his city is inexplicably taken off the map, he makes it his mission to put Dickens back on the map and finds himself in the awkward position of becoming both a slaveholder and segregator in the process (hence the whole Supreme Court thing).
To put it simply, "The Sellout" is a laugh-out-loud satire about race in America today, which is a description that fails to fully convey it's comic genius. Trust me, you just need to read it.
WATCH: Dave Chappelle's Netflix specials, "The Age of Spin" and "Deep in the Heart of Texas"
In his New York Times book review, Dwight Garner describes the first one hundred pages of "The Sellout" "like the most concussive monologues and interviews of Chris Rock, Richard Pryor and Dave Chappelle wrapped in a satirical yet surprisingly delicate literary and historical sensibility." In "The Age of Spin" and "Deep in the Heart of Texas," Chappelle broaches racial inequality with his signature irreverent sense of humor, which will satiate any Beatty fan's desire for socially conscious comedy.
LISTEN: "To Pimp a Butterfly" by Kendrick Lamar
Like Beatty and Chappelle, Kendrick Lamar offers sharp social commentary tinged with humor on "To Pimp a Butterfly." To give just one example, on the track "Hood Politics," Kendrick compares the hill to the hood, referring to congressmen as gang members (a.k.a. Demo-Crips and Re-Blood-licans). Throughout the album, Kendrick masterfully confronts serious social issues like racial inequality, police brutality and economic disparity with a poignant sense of humor, making it the perfect musical pairing for "The Sellout."
Listen to "To Pimp a Butterfly" on Spotify.