Black Buck (Hardcover)
January 2021 Indie Next List
“Perhaps I have a different perspective on this book because I have a younger brother who is a Black, 20-something man in sales, but this book presents an evocative, honest, complex portrait of being a BIPOC person in a white-dominant workplace (albeit one that is high-powered, sales-driven, and New York City-based). This is a book that allows a reader to be seen if this is their experience, but also for a reader to learn about a different reality if this is not their own. Black Buck is a tightly woven, contemporary debut from an author to watch.”
— BrocheAroe Fabian, River Dog Book Co., Beaver Dam, WI
A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick!
Longlisted for the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize
“Askaripour closes the deal on the first page of this mesmerizing novel, executing a high wire act full of verve and dark, comic energy.”
—Colson Whitehead, author of The Nickel Boys
“A hilarious, gleaming satire as radiant as its author. Askaripour has announced himself as a major talent of the school of Ralph Ellison, Paul Beatty, Fran Ross, and Ishmael Reed. Full of quick pacing, frenetic energy, absurd—yet spot on—twists and turns, and some of the funniest similes I’ve ever read, this novel is both balm and bomb.”
—Nafissa Thompson-Spires, author of Heads of the Colored People
For fans of Sorry to Bother You and The Wolf of Wall Street—a crackling, satirical debut novel about a young man given a shot at stardom as the lone Black salesman at a mysterious, cult-like, and wildly successful startup where nothing is as it seems.
There’s nothing like a Black salesman on a mission.
An unambitious twenty-two-year-old, Darren lives in a Bed-Stuy brownstone with his mother, who wants nothing more than to see him live up to his potential as the valedictorian of Bronx Science. But Darren is content working at Starbucks in the lobby of a Midtown office building, hanging out with his girlfriend, Soraya, and eating his mother’s home-cooked meals. All that changes when a chance encounter with Rhett Daniels, the silver-tongued CEO of Sumwun, NYC’s hottest tech startup, results in an exclusive invitation for Darren to join an elite sales team on the thirty-sixth floor.
After enduring a “hell week” of training, Darren, the only Black person in the company, reimagines himself as “Buck,” a ruthless salesman unrecognizable to his friends and family. But when things turn tragic at home and Buck feels he’s hit rock bottom, he begins to hatch a plan to help young people of color infiltrate America’s sales force, setting off a chain of events that forever changes the game.
Black Buck is a hilarious, razor-sharp skewering of America’s workforce; it is a propulsive, crackling debut that explores ambition and race, and makes way for a necessary new vision of the American dream.
"An irresistible comic novel about the tenacity of racism in corporate America . . . [Black Buck] is alternately sly and sweet, a work of cultural criticism that laments and celebrates the power of money."
— Ron Charles, Washington Post
“Darkly comic . . . The message at the heart of this novel [is] very American, that the power is in the pitch . . . Black Buck is not unlike The Great Gatsby, in its own way.”
— NPR, Weekend Edition
“This winning novel — or is it a self-help book? — opens with a striking proposition: ‘MLK, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Frederick Douglass were all salesmen’ . . . Teetering between biting satire and complete earnestness (interspersed throughout are callouts with real sales advice), Askaripour’s novel charts the unlikely metamorphosis of Darren Vender . . . [whose] quick wit provides cathartic delight.”
— New York Times Book Review
"Mateo Askaripour’s voice is so fresh. The writing is so intimate. At moments, it's satirical and funny and then at moments, it's heartbreaking . . . The details are so intimate, spot on and beautiful. I found myself underlining constantly."
— Jenna Bush Hager, Today Show?
“A combination of character study, searing indictment of all the problematics of white corporate culture, and some good old-fashioned enjoyable sarcasm.”
— Entertainment Weekly, "The Best Books to Keep You Warm This January"
"A must-read . . . Buck’s journey is one you should invest in for 2021 without question."
— BET, "Is Mateo Askaripour's Debut Novel the Blackest Book of 2021?"
“Mateo Askaripour begins his debut, which follows Brooklyn-dwelling Darren as he’s plucked from his Starbucks manager job by a start-up CEO and crashed into a sales job as the only Black member of the company, with an author’s note that the book might be used as a reference by aspiring Black salesmen. It’s a satirical construct that informs this razor-sharp send-up of ladder-climbing office culture, and all the systemic and individual racism it perpetuates.”
— Vanity Fair, “The Books and Totes That Will Get You Through This Winter”
“Askaripour wields a sharp satirical blade to deliver social commentary . . . He may have written the first satire that doubles as self-help.”
— Los Angeles Times
"A biting and brilliant novel, Black Buck is masterclass in self-reflection and meaningful satire."
— Shondaland, "The Best Five Books for January"
"Proceeds at breakneck speed . . . Black Buck weaves in commentary about gentrification, class, race, and the American dream in between its punchy jokes."
— O, the Oprah Magazine, "33 of the Best Beach Reads to Help You Escape"
"Rhapsodic and incisive, Black Buck is a journey into a post-racial dystopia born of tech-fueled greed and racial ignorance. In other words: It’s a doozy."
— Wired, "Picks for the 10 Books You Have to Read This Winter"