New Yorker Mateo Askaripour’s funny, fast-talking debut novel Black Buck will have you tripping over your thoughts. 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.
Darren is an unambitious 22-year-old Starbucks employee and comic books fan with skin the “rich caramel” colour of a Werther’s Original, and teeth “status quo and powerful, also known as white and straight”. But when he’s sweet-talked into an elite job with a hi-tech start-up he evolves, Peter Parker-style, into cool hot Buck, “the Muhammad Ali of sales”, swiftly ramping up clients like a Black Wolf of Wall Street.
Swept up in his own awesomeness, he loses his grasp of what he really cares about, and when a tragic reminder smacks him in the face, he’s forced to rethink his life. Like most debuts, there are times when clichés are presented as revelations. But this book has the energy of a puppy spaniel, and the heart of close-knit family under fire. Oh, and be sure to read the delightful acknowledgments; they’ll leave you rooting for future star Askaripour even more.
Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour is out on May 27 (Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99)