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Paul Beatty becomes first U.S. winner of Man Booker Prize

Paul Beatty becomes first U.S. winner of Man Booker PrizePaul Beatty has become the first U.S. author to win the Man Booker Prize with his racial satire The Sellout, BBC reported on Wednesday.

His novel tells the story of a young black man who tries to reinstate slavery and racial segregation in a suburb of Los Angeles.

Amanda Foreman, chair of the judges, said the book managed "to eviscerate every social taboo".

Beatty's win was announced at a ceremony at London's Guildhall on Tuesday.

Picking up the £50,000 prize from the Duchess of Cornwall, Beatty, 54, was clearly overwhelmed with emotion and struggled for words as he began his acceptance speech.

"I hate writing," he admitted later in the speech.

"This is a hard book. It was a hard for me to write, I know it's hard to read. Everyone's coming at it from different angles," he went on.

"It's nice to know that something I've worked on for the last five years, if not more, has touched people, not only in the States but in the UK. That's incredible," Beatty said at BBC Breakfast on the morning following his win.

This is the third year that the £50,000 prize has been open to writers of any nationality. The shortlist included two British, two U.S., one Canadian and one British-Canadian writer.

While this is the first time an American author has won the main Booker Prize, they have triumphed at the Booker International Prize in previous years. It was won this year by Han Kang's The Vegetarian.

The Sellout beat five other novels, including Madeleine Thien's Do Not Say We Have Nothing, the bookies' favourite, and Graeme Macrae Burnet's Scottish crime thriller His Bloody Project. The other three are Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk, Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen, David Szalay’s All That Man Is.

At the awards ceremony, chair of the judges Foreman said they had taken about four hours to reach their unanimous decision.

She said The Sellout was "a novel for our times" that contained "an absolutely savage wit" reminiscent of Jonathan Swift or Mark Twain.

"This is a book that nails the reader to the cross with cheerful abandon. But while you are being nailed you are being tickled," she elaborated.

The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book. The winner receives a further £50,000.
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