John Murray has won a publisher auction to publish the New York Times bestseller Black Buck, a satirical debut by Mateo Askaripour on race and ambition in office culture. The book will be published in the UK in May.
The deal represents Yassine Belkacemi's first major acquisition for John Murray, as editor and publicity director at the imprint. Belkacemi acquired UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) in all formats, including audio, for Black Buck from Sally Wofford-Girand at Union Literary.
Recently published in the US, Black Buck was hailed by Colson Whitehead as "a high-wire act full of verve and dark, comic energy", and is praised "a hilarious, razor-sharp skewering of office culture" by John Murray. The book is about a young man given a shot at stardom as the lone Black salesman at a mysterious, cult-like and wildly successful start-up, where nothing is as it seems.
The book's synopsis reads: "Unambitious 22-year-old Darren lives in a Brooklyn brownstone with his mother, who wants nothing more than to see him live up to his potential. But Darren is content working at Starbucks in the lobby of a Manhattan office building. All that changes when a chance encounter with a silver-tongued c.e.o. of New York’s hottest tech start-up results in an exclusive invitation for Darren to join their elite sales team.
"After enduring a 'hell week' of training, Darren, the only Black person in the company, reimagines himself as 'Buck', a ruthless salesman unrecognisable to his friends and family. But when things turn tragic at home and Buck feels he has hit rock bottom, he begins to hatch a plan to help young people of colour infiltrate America's sales force, setting off a chain of events that forever changes the game."
Belkacemi said: "In Black Buck, Mateo—like every good salesman—had me hooked from the get-go. His voice soars off the page and takes us into a world where he acutely dissects race and ambition in corporate culture. Judging by the widely enthusiastic response from my colleagues at John Murray, this is a book that has resonated with a lot of the team, and one that many of them are champing at the bit to get to work on. An immediate hit in America, I’m certain Black Buck and Mateo will be just as big a hit here in the UK. At just 29 years old, Mateo is a serious talent, and I’m buzzing he’s chosen John Murray to bring his debut to UK readers."
Askaripour, who is based in Brooklyn, said: "Being the child of parents who met in Bristol, I have a deep and personal connection to the UK. So when I was writing Black Buck, I dreamed of the day when UK readers would be able to hold, read, and discuss it. To say that I'm excited to engage with what I am confident is the most relevant audience for the book outside of the States would be an understatement, so maybe dead chuffed is more appropriate. I also couldn't have a better partner than the folks at John Murray, so the future is looking bright and Black in the best way."