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Black Buck

Black Buck

eBook - 2021
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A New York Times Bestseller
A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick!

"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.


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Apr 30, 2021

This book had me from page 1 - I was all in. I worked at Starbucks when I was in university and so much of that culture and daily routine resonated with me based on people I knew and customers I had, and when the narrative moved away from that space, I was already so invested in the characters and language that I wasn't sorry to see it go.

This book was uncomfortable to read a lot of the time, and I don't typically enjoy watching a beloved character make "bad" decisions, but in this case I could so easily see why it was happening and how it was rooted in the horribly racist environment he was working in. As things were coming apart for our protagonist, I couldn't help but root for him and assume that we would see him work everything out.

The writing and dialogue in this book was bananas good to top it all off. Such an immersive and plotty book that doesn't skimp on authentic character development. Highly recommended.

ArapahoeJulia Apr 26, 2021

I appreciated the satirical commentary on what it's like being the only black man amongst rich white folks running a tech start-up. I didn't enjoy how painful the reality is for the main character Darren. I cringed and felt awful for the extra lengths he had to endure to make the same progress as his white co-workers. Painful realities, however, are necessary to be made aware of and so I'm grateful to this book for that.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Black Buck is important for the insights it provided and the often overlooked perspective it was able to speak to. There is a lot of racism and microaggressions that Darren has to navigate in the corporate world and I think it's important to learn what an experience shouldn't look like for someone walking into a setting like this. This isn't one that should be picked up as a light or fun read, however it is worthwhile and interesting!

Apr 20, 2021

An absolute MUST read for 2021. I listened to the audiobook and it was AMAZING!! Two thumbs up!! 👍👍

Feb 08, 2021

The best book of 2021 so far. Super sharp and a story that grabs you and doesn't let go. Fantastic characters, fantastic writing. It's heart-breaking, over-the-top, funny, warm, wry, ice cold and raw, but highly recommended. A great bookclub pick. Can't wait for more books from Mateo Askaripour after this show-stopping debut!

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Feb 01, 2021

This novel of an African American protagonist figuring out tech bro culture and spreading this knowledge to others isn't laugh out loud funny, but it is darkly comedic and I'm looking forward to reading more from this first time novelist.

AlishaH_KCMO Jan 25, 2021

Black Buck follows the story of Darren Vender, an unambitious twenty-two-year-old, Darren lives in a Bed-Stuy brownstone with his mother. He’s happy with his Mom, his long term girlfriend, Soraya, his best friend Jason, and Mr. Rawlings, the man who’s lived on the first floor of his house since before he was born. Darren is even content with just being a shift manager at Starbucks. But his Mom wants nothing more than for Darren to live up to his potential. So when Rhett Daniels, the CEO of Sumwun, New York’s newest tech startup, invites Darren to join the elite team on the thirty-sixth floor, Darren agrees.

Quickly finding out he’s the only Black person in the company and after enduring a “hell week” of training, Darren gets the new name “Buck”, and turns himself into an impressive salesman who becomes unrecognizable to his friends and family. But after a tragic event back home, Buck feels like he hit rock bottom and he begins to make plans to help young people of color make their way into the sales force and it forever changes the game.

This is Mateo Askaripour’s debut novel and what a talent he is! He definitely takes you on a journey that is wild and crazy. This book deals with a lot, the narrator, Buck, puts it all out on the table for the readers to read and experience: racism, gentrification, white privilege, classism, etc.

The story is told with small “notes” from Buck, who is talking to you from a later time. The little notes really make the novel unique and sometimes even funny. There are many characters and many events that keep the story going and growing. You know it’s all somehow going to blow up, because there are so many ways it could, but how it does is the shock.

This book was not what I expected at all and for that I am glad. I will for sure be keeping Mateo Askaripour on my radar for anything he releases in the future.

IndyPL_TheresaC Jan 19, 2021

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour is a wild ride of a novel with an unrealistic timeline, which can be easily overlooked while enjoying main character Darren Vender's life changing events which occur in rapid succession. Darren is a smart and intuitive young guy who believes himself to be content as the HNIC (head negro in charge) for Starbucks with a loyal crew who look up to him. While Darren insists that his life is great the way it is, his mom, girl friend, neighbor and family friend Percy urges him to do more with his life. When Darren gets the attention of the driven type A personality Rhett, a salesman for an unusual startup "Sumwun", Darren's whirlwind career as a salesman begins. I found this book to be a fast passed and very entertaining read. Communicating in the first person, Darren shares his dos and don'ts for success and his frustration with the openly racist/but "surely not racist" comments from staff such as being told he resembles; Sydney Poitier, Malcolm X etc... There is also much self examination as Darren's life, personality, and close relationship are permanently altered by the decisions he makes as his career and Rhett become more important than anything.

Dec 03, 2020

Black Buck is about Darren, a smart, young, (initially) unambitious black man, who is recruited from his job as a Starbucks manager to work in sales at a high pressure startup. Darren lives with his mom in Bed-Stuy in a brownstone that they own. He has an awesome girlfriend that he is really into. At the startup he is the only POC and encounters microaggressions to ugly racism. His success in his new job is accompanied by a moral decline in terms of his treatment of his family and friends. Buck, as he is nicknamed at the startup, remains a sympathetic character even as he starts drinking, snorting coke, sleeping around and treating those that love him the most like crap.
He eventually learns his lesson and channels his newfound skills into helping others.
Black Buck is a well-written, satirical, clever, unpredictable, fast-paced modern fable which touches on many issues: success and failure, workplace culture, racism and white privilege. I'm still thinking about this book and it will stay with me.


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