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Black Buck

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,245 ratings  ·  419 reviews
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 brownston
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published January 5th 2021 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Mateo Askaripour Hi Kate, thanks for your question! There is sex and explicit violence, so if you deem that inappropriate for a 14-year-old, this book isn't for them. …moreHi Kate, thanks for your question! There is sex and explicit violence, so if you deem that inappropriate for a 14-year-old, this book isn't for them. Thus far, the youngest audience I've read a portion of the novel to was one comprised of mostly 15 and 16-year-olds, and the excerpt I chose was lighter than other parts.(less)

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Average rating 3.98  · 
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Ron Charles
Jan 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A month ago, I’d never heard of Mateo Askaripour. Today I would buy anything from him.

This young debut author apparently polished his patter as director of sales at a tech start-up. Now he’s bounced off that success to produce an irresistible comic novel about the tenacity of racism in corporate America. “Black Buck,” which marks the launch of an effervescent new career, is alternately sly and sweet, a work of cultural criticism that laments and celebrates the power of money.

In a tradition stret
Nov 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley

My thoughts about this book were all over the map. It’s called satire, but it’s not the traditional laugh out loud satire. Other than a running joke in which every white person thinks Buck looks like a different famous black man, there’s not much to laugh about. Instead, it’s the tale of what happens when a young black man tries to emulate a successful white man and loses his soul.
Darren is happy working at Starbucks, waiting for the right opportunity. He gets that opportunity to work as a sale
Jan 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Before reading the first word of Black Buck, close your eyes, breath deeply, then recite this definition to yourself:

Satire = The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

For if you don’t keep that definition in mind, this novel will be weighed down by its ridiculousness. The main character, Buck (so nicknamed because he worked at Starbucks), actually tells the
Dec 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
If I were a HS English teacher or a college English professor, I would assign this book to my class. I've been ruminating on this for a few days and I think now that I'm finally extracting my analysis and putting it into words I have much more of an appreciation for what this book is meant to do. What the author has accomplished here is pretty remarkable. The more non-POC who read books like this and supplement that with research and conversations from POC, we can work towards really trying to m ...more
Jan 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction, satire
So, “Black Buck” is billed as a satirical novel about racism, and I agree, there’s much satire in this amazing novel. While reading it, and after reading it, I took pause. Author Mateo Askaripour packs so much into his novel, and the racism…. oh my…it’s horrifying yet he writes it in such a clever way, many times cringe-worthy, that I had to admit to myself that yes, this crap happens and most likely is STILL happening! With satire and humor, Askaripour creates a message that is profound and for ...more
Theresa Alan
Nov 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
“An opportunity means change. And opportunity means actions. But most of all, an opportunity means the chance of failure. And it’s the potential for failure, more than failure itself, that stops so many people from beginning anything.”

I started out really enjoying this book because I liked the main character, Darren, who gets the nickname Buck at a start-up company where he is the only black person. But then Buck becomes a person I disliked immensely, one of those sleazy salespeople that is a st
Chelsey (a_novel_idea11)
Dec 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways-arcs
Darren is a managing barista at a busy Starbucks in Manhattan just waiting for his big break. When one of his regulars comes in alone one afternoon, Darren works up the courage to pitch a new drink to him. The customer always orders the same beverage, but Darren knows another drink would be better suited to him. Able to persuade the customer to try something new, Darren realizes he may have bit off more than he can chew when the customer is so surprised that he asks Darren for a meeting in his o ...more
Laura Tenfingers
Nov 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This was fantastic!

Here we meet Darren, a black man living in NYC, high school valedictorian working at Starbucks. He's smart, kind, caring, and pretty happy. But everyone he cares about wants him to reach his potential, be the man they know he can be, etc. Then an opportunity presents itself, and to please said people, he takes it. And all manner of hell breaks loose.

I found this book to be a great mixture of hilarity, inspiration and confrontation with racism. It was really smart and engaging
Lily Herman
Jul 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Excuse me for a sec, I need to catch my breath, because this novel took me on a JOURNEY.

Mateo Askaripour's debut Black Buck is a wildly batshit absurdist satire on startup culture, racism in America, media fuckery, New York City, and so much more. Buck himself was a fascinating character—and one whom you never quite get a grip on but feel okay about in the process.

In a weird way, this novel sort of reminded me of C. D. Payne's Youth in Revolt in terms of how ridiculous the stakes got after a cer
Jan 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
4 stars

You can read all of my reviews at Nerd Girl Loves Books.

I love this book. It starts off slowly, setting the scene and giving the reader a glimpse into Darren's safe, predictable life working as a shift manager at Starbucks and spending time with his mother and girlfriend. One day he gets recruited to be a salesperson in an elite, cut-throat start-up company, and that’s when the pace of the book takes off and doesn’t slow down until the end. Darren is the only African American person in th
Traci at The Stacks
Solid and ambitious debut. Really funny in parts. Reads like a movie for sure. Would be great on screen. The book went on way too long but what I liked I really liked and what lagged really lagged. Audiobook reader is great!
Anna Bright
Jul 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary
This book is not a thriller, but it feels like one.
BLACK BUCK, pitched as being for fans of The Wolf of Wall Street, is propulsive and heart-pounding right from its confident, riotous beginning, where Darren "Buck" Vender, our main character and the only Black salesman at the startup where he's just been hired, asks the reader to clap their hands and chant EVERY DAY IS DEALS DAY. I haven't met a main character this powerful in ages, and I haven't read a book that kept me on my back foot so consi
Qiana Groves
Jul 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Black Buck is Mateo's debut novel and I was thoroughly impressed. This story line is peculiar and also very well written. It's entertaining but also touches on some very relevant issues in today's society. I am definitely looking forward to reading any subsequent novels that may come from this author.

Black Buck tells a tale of Darren Vendor, your typical twenty two year old guy that works at Starbucks and lives with his mom. Darren graduated as his high school's valedictorian but after graduati
Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell
Getting an ARC of this! Omg it sounds AMAZING
Dec 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021

Phewww. This is one of this books that I loved so much I'm overthinking things. I want to make sure my review is really helpful, so here goes.

In NY, Darren is living his life comfortably as a manager at Starbucks, in a house with his mom, dating his high school love. Unexpectedly, he gets the chance to make a lot of money to work in sales for a startup, and it changes his life. For the better? That's up to you to decide.

This was one of the most memorable books I’ve read in a long time. It’s dark
Jennifer Blankfein
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
I had more than a few laugh out loud moments and enjoyed the author’s memoir/instruction manual- style format and satirical story about a black man in the very white tech start up industry. Jenna Bush Hager’s January book pick and great for discussion. Full review to come on Book Nation by Jen.
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
What a journey and utter powerhouse BLACK BUCK, the debut from Mateo Askaripour, is. So much happens to Buck, our main character, in the span of a year that it is hard to condense into one quick sentence, and often hard to believe. This book is somewhat fantastical, but also often depressingly realistic. It tells the story of Darren Vendor, who gets re-named Buck after being plucked from being a Starbucks barista to being a salesman at a dubious sounding Manhattan tech start-up. A mix of tragedy ...more
Dec 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Darren Vender was the valedictorian of his high school class but now works at Starbuck's as a supervisor and likes his job. He is happy living at home with his mom, has a long term girlfriend and is respected at work. They are all telling him that he has to do something more, be more ambitious. Then one morning one of his regular customers comes in and Darren upsells him on a different drink and the guy offers him a job at his tech company upstairs. He goes through a brutal orientation and train ...more
Sherwood Smith
Jan 04, 2021 added it
Shelves: satire
Darren is a good kid who loves his family and friends, and tries to be a decent part of his community. Then he’s given an “opportunity” at an agency, where, being the only kid of color, he’s hazed horribly. As a result he starts passing on the crap he’s taken, and his character takes a turn for the worse. At that point he, and the other characters, become caricatures as the book levels its sarcasm artillery at the corporate world—becoming a completely different sort of book than it seemed at the ...more
Nica's Musings
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it

Every day is deals day!

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour is The Wolf of Wall Street for salespeople. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you want to punch someone in the face, or it will inspire you to pick up the phone and call your prospects. Whatever your goal, the main reason why I chose this book is I wanted a subject that will teach me about sales written as a story instead of a self-help book. It is quite a unique writing style. You'll find reader-notes that the author
Jan 10, 2021 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

Life is many things. Good. Strange. Beautiful. A highway. One could place any number of adjectives – or nouns disguised as them – within the blank space of the “life is ____” formula and hardly be wrong. Which is to say that few things, if any, are more resourceful. Makes sense given that life itself is about the only thing we all have in common.

In a perfect world, the beginning of each life would be the same. Every newborn would enter the human race as equals, the world their oyster.
When I first heard the title Black Buck I immediately thought about how this term was used historically to identify Black men that were strong athletic and healthy. These "bucks" would be sold at the highest price during slave auction; the promise of their seed furthering the slave master's financial profit.

So how does this fit our main character Darren? He's a very intelligent resourceful young man. He attains the job after he closes the sale with the company's CEO who supposedly nicknames him
Shay | Books Are Magic Too
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to Bookish First I was able to read an excerpt of this title and was instantly drawn into the writing style and the protagonist’s experience as he transitions from working at Starbucks to a growing startup company. I was even more thrilled to win a paperback ARC via the raffle & could not wait to read the rest of the book!

A fast-paced book full of eye-opening experiences that make it a must-read. this story follows Darren “Buck” as he becomes the only black guy working for a tech startup
Dec 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

When Darren takes a new job as a salesman at a tech startup, his life begins to change for the better. But as he becomes distance from his family, community, and friends, is his life really improving? As well as being the only black personality in his company, he faces turmoil from outside the company as well.

I loved this book! The satire was perfectly done and showcased the racism that people of color go through, not only in the business world, but in e
Dec 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is categorized as satire and while there was some satire in it it was largely too real to be funny. It was a great read and highlighted some important issues particularly around race that I think need to be highlighted more. When I think of satire I think of grossly exaggerated and pushing the boundaries by making it absurd to get you to think, but everything that happened in this book I could see occurring. Darren “Buck” is a young black man working as a supervisor at Starbucks when a ...more
Cortney Evans
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was incredible! it was original and heartfelt I thoroughly enjoyed it! Mateo Askaripour knocked it out of the park with this debut novel. This book hit on so many relevant topics such as systemic racism, white privilege and corporate greed. This book had me hooked from the beginning! The writing was smart, witty and honest. I will definitely be looking forward to more Mateo Askaripour novels in the future. I want to thank Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an advanced copy of ...more
Jun 21, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: on-deck, netgalley, 2021
*Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt & Netgalley for an advance copy!
Elizabeth Plunkett
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs-2020
I was drawn in by the description of Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour. This book wasn’t quite what I was expecting in the best way. It’s a powerful story that walks the reader through the sales process in an autobiographical format. Buck, the narrator and protagonist, speaks to the audience throughout giving advice much like Saved by the Bell and first season of Sex and the City. It reminded me of Life of Pi which tells you it’s a novel right there on the cover, but the book is so well written and ...more
Dysha Cole
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
What a interesting story. This book covers so many topics but the two that stuck out the most to me were racism and classism/elitism cIt was hard to watch (or read) Darren swallow his pride on numerous issues and even harder to see him turn around and treat others like he had been treated (like crap). This book has so many twists and turns with a very surprising ending. I wasn’t so sure about this one when I first started reading but I’m glad I stuck it out.
This. Book. Is. Wild. I would highly recommend it - Black Buck is definitely going down as one of my favorite books of the year.

Black Buck tells the story of Darren Vender, a young, smart, ambitious but hesitant 20-something Black man working at Starbucks. A chance encounter with the CEO of a fancy start-up, Sumwun, leads Darren to a job and a whole new world. But that new world is rife with danger, casual racism, and continuous challenges. As Darren's star rises, his morals deteriorate, asking
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#ReadWithJenna: Share your thoughts about Black Buck 1 115 Jan 05, 2021 06:59AM  
Bookish First Rea...: Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour 2 23 Oct 14, 2020 06:38AM  
“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

MATEO ASKARIPOUR was a 2018 Rhode Island Writers Colony writer-in-residence, and his writing has appeared in Entrepreneur, Lit Hub, Catapult, The Rumpus, Medium, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn, and his favorite pas

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“An opportunity means change. An opportunity means action. But most of all, an opportunity means the chance of failure. And it's the potential for failure, more than failure itself, that stops so many people from beginning anything.” 1 likes
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