Paul Beatty … a prize-winning sellout.

Paul Beatty … a prize-winning sellout


American author Paul Beatty (born 1962) lives in Manhatten, New York. In 2016, he won the Man Booker Prize for his novel The Sellout, the first time a writer from the United States has been so honoured.


In a recent interview with The Guardian, he talked about his writing environment and daily routine :

What do other people do? How do they write? Is there an easier way? No. I’m sorry, but there is no magic trick. You’ve just got to put your butt in the seat.

I have a small apartment in Manhattan, New York, with a desk in my bedroom, and that’s the best spot for writing. I think for New York it’s probably a good size apartment, and I’ve been working there for so long that I’m used to it. I’ve been there almost 25 years, which is too long really, but it’s hard to get me to change. It has no view at all. It’s on the street, there’s a fire station, and a big building across from it. It’s a thin room, cluttered, with nothing on the walls. I have a candle. No, I’m kidding about the candle. It’s all very simple; I don’t have any rituals.


I tend to write in the morning. Sometimes at night. Whenever my head calms down. If I’m working, I work every day, for five minutes or five hours, it depends where I’m at. If I’m stuck I tend to stop, take a walk, maybe go shopping. I might have half a thought that leads to a thought that I need to have, but it doesn’t happen all the time. Sometimes if I’m stuck I’ll put on some music, but not very often. I have some music that I’ve been listening to for a long time, but it’s private, sorry. I don’t want anyone laughing at my music tastes. Some of it is in The Sellout.

I go back and edit bit by bit, by taking a chunk and going through it. I can’t go forward unless that chunk is pretty close to where I want it to be. It could be five pages, 10 pages – wherever I get to before I exhale. There’s nothing in particular that makes me get on a roll. Sometimes you surprise yourself. It’s like rolling dice: you just keep going and keep going and then one of those times it will just come. This is my fourth novel. Each book feels different as I’m  writing it. The Sellout felt heavier, somehow.



9 responses to “Paul Beatty … a prize-winning sellout.

  1. Now, I might just be being very blonde here, but – how can he be a first-time writer if this is his forth novel?

  2. It is the first time an American writer has been awarded the Man Booker Prize. You may well be having a blonde moment, Lucy. Such moments are generally worth their weight in something or other. Hair perhaps. I sense that your political responsibilities are proving to be a somewhat heavy responsibility. You are well up to it though, blonde or otherwise.
    I am almost at my new abode. It has been a difficult journey but we are just about there. I hear seagulls. That is always good.

  3. His waffly, overcome acceptance speech was a delight!

  4. So it’s all down to elbow grease… no magic tricks… Good post, Chris, I enjoyed reading that. And I’ll look for the acceptance speech, Sarah!

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