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Black Buck (Hardcover)

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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 New York Times Bestseller 
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.

About the Author

MATEO ASKARIPOUR’s work aims to empower people of color to seize opportunities for advancement, no matter the obstacle. He was chosen as one of Entertainment Weekly’s “10 rising stars to make waves in 2021,” a 2018 Rhode Island Writers Colony writer-in-residence, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Lit Hub, and elsewhere. His debut novel BLACK BUCK was an instant New York Times bestseller and a Read With Jenna Today Show book club pick. He lives in Brooklyn. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @AskMateo.

Praise For…

An Instant New York Times Bestseller
A Read with Jenna 
Today Show Book Club Pick
Long-listed for the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize
Long-listed for the Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize

An Indie Next Pick
Apple’s Best of January
Amazon’s Spotlight Best Pick of the Month
One of Barnes & Noble Reads “Most Anticipated for January”
One of Entertainment Weekly’s “Best Books to Keep You Warm this January”
One of Washington Post’s “10 Books to Read in January”
One of NBC News' "10 of the Best Fiction Books by Black Authors in 2021"
One of Fortune’s “Best Books for January”
One of Shondaland's "Best Five Books for January"
One of Essence's "21 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2021"
One of WIRED's "Picks for the 10 Books You Have to Read This Winter"
One of O, the Oprah Magazine's "33 of the Best Beach Reads to Help You Escape"
One of Vulture's "46 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2021"
One of Elle's "55 Best Books to Read in 2021"
One of Marie Claire’s “29 Best New 2021 Books”
One of Vanity Fair’s “Books to Get You Through Winter”
One of E! Online's "17 Books to Add to Your Reading List in January"
One of The Root's "PageTurners: We're in for a Hell of  Year"
One of AV Club's "5 New Books to Read in January"
One of Marie Claire's "35 Must-Read 2021 Book Releases by Black Authors"

One of Cosmopolitan’s “Best New Books 2021”
One of the New York Post's "Best New Books to Read"
One of PopSugar’s “Books Everyone Will Be Talking About in 2021”
One of Literary Hub's "Most Anticipated Books of the Year"
One of Parade's "Best New Books to Read this Winter"
One of Thrillist's "30 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2021"
One of Reader's Digest's "25 Best Books by Black Authors You'll Want to Know About"
One of PopSugar's "Best Books of January"
One of Book Riot's "10 Propulsive 2021 Books Everyone Will Be Talking About"
One of Poets & Writer’s “New and Noteworthy”
One of SheReads’ “The Best 12 Books of Winter”
One of Alma’s “Favorite Books for Winter 2021”
One of Book Riot’s “January Book Recommendations”
One of Black Business Guide's "21 Books by Black Writers to Read in 2021"
One of Debutiful’s “10 Debut Books You Should Read this January”
One of Write or Die Tribe's "21 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2021"
One of Sunday Evening Post's "10 Books to Start 2021"
One of The Nerd Daily's "Anticipated Debut Novels You Should Have on Your Radar in 2021"
One of Grit Daily's "Best Books of 2021"
One of Entertainment Weekly's "14 Books to Read During Black History Month"
Included on The Rumpus' "What to Read When You Want to Celebrate Black History"
A Skimm Reads Pick

"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. Preorder for your 2021 reading list.”
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"

"This quick-witted, trenchant debut novel starts like a superhero origin story . . . What follows is a harrowing tale that operates at the fraught intersection of capitalism, race, and class."
Vulture, "Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2021"

"Blazing . . . A fast-paced, sharp, hilarious story with a lot of heart."

"[A] bold satire about corporate sales tactics...Pick this up if you’re exhausted by LLC Twitter."
Essence, "21 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2021"

"What makes Black Buck fresh is Askaripour’s sharp observation of what it is like to be a Black person in a predominantly white space."

“A razor-sharp and highly intelligent debut, Black Buck brings the idea of the American Dream into a new century. It is a darkly comic novel about a young Black man named Darren, who moves from trying workplace drama to a rollercoaster journey of self-actualization. A novel bred to make you think.”
B&N Reads

“[Black Buck is] one of those books where, the minute you pick it up, you are in the story—rooting for the heroes, rooting for the neighborhood, rooting for Darren Vender who will transform before your very eyes . . . A wild ride, a mash-up between the humor of the everyday and the insanity of start-up culture. The best part is that Mateo Askaripour incorporates specific lessons throughout the book to give readers the basic training to get a sales job.”
Amazon Book Review

“Propulsive . . . This razor-sharp tale skewers America’s workforce, explores ambition and race, and makes way for a necessary new vision of the American dream.”
Fortune, “21 Anticipated Books for January”

"An uninhibited and timely blend of satire, inspiration and truth-telling."

“Askaripour eviscerates corporate culture in his funny, touching debut . . . A winning and layered bildungsroman.
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Extraordinary . . . Askaripour has created a skillfully written, biting, witty, and absurdist novel that sheds light on racism, start-up culture, corporate morality, media bias, gentrification, and many other timely, important themes. Askaripour is an author to watch.”
Booklist, starred review

“A witty yet thrilling examination of the complexities of race in corporate America . . . Black Buck is an ambitious book. While being an intellectual and captivating work of satire, it also serves as an instruction manual for Black and brown people working in white-dominated spaces. Askaripour embeds tokens of wisdom in his well-crafted plot and delivers direct messages of advice and encouragement to readers. There is great risk in such ambition, but Askaripour is a fine writer and superbly executes his vision. This is an entertaining, accessible and thorough look at America’s race problem, a book both of the moment and one for all seasons. It’s a necessary read for those living under the weight of oppressive systems as well as for those looking to better understand their complicity within them.”
BookPage, starred review

“A first novel that satirically lays out the wretched excesses of turn-of-the-21st-century capitalism as it both enriches and disfigures a bright young Black man’s coming-of-age . . . jazzily discursive and rhythmically propulsive . . . with punchy, go-for-broke mother-wit.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Askaripour’s satire revolves around the rudderless Darren, whose fortunes change when he joins the sales team of a strange start-up where he’s the sole employee of color. But soon, family trouble convinces him to use his newfound success for his community’s good.”
Washington Post, “10 Books to Read in January”

“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

“I fell in love with this book and Buck from the first page. Mateo has not only authentically captured the feeling of being seen as 'other,' but he’s also managed to delicately show the way in which so many people protect themselves by creating an alter ego out of self-preservation. Buck's journey is filled with heartache, laughter, fear, success, and karma.”
—Jay Ellis, actor, director, producer 

Black Buck  is a madcap look at compromises Black people make while trying to get ahead. When are you code-switching, and when is the code switching you? Mateo Askaripour didn't write a novel, he crafted a business book forged in the abyss as it stares back. It's a world that looks an awful lot like the hell we're in.”
—Rion Amilcar Scott, author of The World Doesn't Require You

“When Darren, our protagonist, is offered the opportunity of a lifetime, this unforgettable story sets off at lightspeed. Combining such humor, intelligence, heartbreak, and narrative skill in one book takes immense talent. Mateo Askaripour has accomplished this task with room to spare. Black Buck is an important treatise on Black ambition; Mateo Askaripour is an important writer, a voice we need. We should all look forward to what he produces next.”

—Gabriel Bump, author of Everywhere You Don't Belong

Black Buck is funny, sharp and carried by a voice that is entirely its own. This debut is ambitious and Askaripour’s daring pays off beautifully.”
—Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of Friday Black

"A wonderful, riotous romp. A razor sharp, humorous examination of American workplace dynamics in the tech industry."
—Irenosen Okojie, author of Butterfly Fish and others
"As funny as it is smart."
—Candice Carty Williams, author of Queenie

"Black Buck takes on start-up culture, white supremacy in the workplace, and capitalism all in a highly readable form."
Entertainment Weekly, "14 Books to Read During Black History Month"

"Black Buck is the New York Times bestseller that gets real about the many compromises that Black people make while navigating America's workforce . . . It delves into code-switching and ultimately shows how this linguistic back-and-forth takes a toll psychologically and emotionally over time."
Reader's Digest, "25 Best Books by Black Authors You'll Want to Know About"

"A crackling satire of corporate America [ . . . ] The book documents the experiences of people of colour in white-dominated companies, and the daily microaggressions and small humiliations that minorities have to endure in order to fit in at work."
Guardian (UK)

"Sharp, clever, and often hilarious."
New York Post, "The Best New Books to Read"

"An eye-opening read that deftly touches on the intersections of class, capitalism and race."

"Wild, fast-paced . . . full of both irresistibly funny moments and biting commentary on race, corporate America, and the compromises made in the name of ambition."
Book Riot, "9 Mesmerizing Debuts You Won't Want to Miss in 2021"

"Black Buck is a novel that is immensely readable while critically engaging with questions that continue to define society’s relationship with race . . . Askaripour excels in his debut, balancing identity, an adrenaline-pumped plot, and societal critique in a way that can, at times, feel like a high wire act."
Porter House Review

"This book takes a hard look at the myth of the American Dream, the price of blind ambition, and racism in America. Plenty of subjects that will have people talking long after they’ve finished."
Book Riot, "10 Propulsive 2021 Books Everyone Will Be Talking About"

"A razor-sharp commentary on capitalism, race, and corporate America."
theSkimm, Skimm Reads Pick 

"Very smart, funny, and topical . . . A look at racism in corporate in America. It's excellent."
—Liberty Hardy, "All the Books!"

"Peppered with spit-out-your-drink absurdities and killer similes, Mateo Askaripour's debut novel, Black Buck, is an unflinching and satirical look at racism and corporate culture . . . . Black Buck exhibits an enthusiastic and trenchant heart."
Shelf Awareness

“Askaripour hits all the right notes . . . A hilarious but also sobering satire of modern capitalism and the toll it takes on our minds, bodies, and souls.”
Debutiful, 10 Debut Books You Should Read this January"

“Fresh, funny and thought-provoking, it’s also chock full of real life lessons.”
—The Center for Fiction

"A satire about race, work, ambition and power, it’s sharp and hilarious . . . different and fabulous."
Daily Mail (UK)
"A biting satire . . . Askaripour’s satire of the tech industry – and of the intersection between capitalism and American racial politics – will appeal to fans of Paul Beatty’s Booker-prizewinning novel The Sellout and Jordan Peele’s film 'Get Out.'"
The Economist (UK)
"The superfast wit, the snappy dialogue, the pleasure it takes in its own chutzpah – it’s all there from the confident start of this seductive book."
The Big Issue (UK)

"Buck’s meteoric rise – and the strain it puts on his relationships back in Brooklyn – is narrated in a wisecracking voice full of salesy charm. While Black Buck was marketed as a satire of race and capitalism, it feels much more like a satire of race in capitalism, an astute parody of business-world appropriation and prejudice."
ExBerliner, "Four Great Reads for February"

“Mateo Askaripour's Black Buck is set to send up the world of corporate America in this sharp debut about a young Black man who reinvents himself as a skilled salesman on a mission.”
PopSugar, “42 Books Everyone Will Be Talking About in 2021”

“At once an incisive satire of corporate America and tech start-ups, but also a novel with so much heart . . . Askaripour is funny and there are so many sentences I read, and thought, hot damn . . . The structure of the book—Darren (“Buck”) narrating to you, telling you how to be a salesperson—works super well, allowing him to address larger themes such as gentrification, white supremacy, grief, and trying to succeed in a world that wasn’t built for your success. A tall order, but I loved so much about Black Buck, and you will too. Honestly, from that very first sentence, I was in.”
Alma, “Favorite Books for Winter 2021”

“Though 2020 was a year of heaviness, it was also a year of powerful Black creativity. From music and Film/TV to (of course) books, the abundance of work that emerged this year beautifully illustrated the nuances of the Black experience, while also making important social commentary on the shortcomings that still need to be confronted. Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour is one of those works . . . Beautifully marrying the surrealism of Sorry to Bother You with the outlandish escapades of The Wolf of Wall Street, Black Buck is gearing up to be one of those novels that will definitely spur important, long-standing conversations.”
The Mary Sue
“Brilliant . . . [Black Buck] touches on racism, and confidence, and capitalism, and the scarcity of opportunity. It’s also one of the funniest books I read all year, easy. The voice Mr. Askaripour crafted for his protagonist is sharp and witty, friendly yet dark, goofy but sincere. This was a pleasure to read from start to finish.”
Girly Juice, “8 Brilliant Books”

"One of the most memorable books I’ve read in a long time."

"Absolutely entertaining . . . [Black Buck] accomplish[es] what it promises to do at the start."

"Funny and exuberant . . .You’ll root for [Darren] and his mission to help get minorities into the workplace."
Sunday Evening Post, "Ten Books to Start 2021"

"Black Buck is a powerhouse of a book . . . [Askaripour's] gaze is unflinching, his prose is 'blink and you’ll miss it' sharp . . . Black Buck will hit you where it hurts, and that’s the best sale of all."
Book Reporter

"Skillfully written, this biting, witty, and absurdist novel that sheds light on racism, start-up culture, corporate morality, media bias, gentrification."
Librarian Style, "20+ Funny Books of the Last Five Years"

"Doubling as a kind of self-help manual for Black people in sales, [Black Buck’s] structure and tone allow it to hold multitudes: the dark, the hopeful, the comical, the horrific. But at its heart, this is also a novel about community."


Product Details
ISBN: 9780358380887
ISBN-10: 035838088X
Publisher: Mariner Books
Publication Date: January 5th, 2021
Pages: 400
Language: English