Debut author Mateo Askaripour frames his novel, Black Buck (11 hours), as a “how-to” manual for fellow Black workers that reveals the secrets of the narrator’s success. This framing device is particularly well suited to the audiobook format, as its similarity to motivational tapes subtly adds to the novel’s rich satirization of the bizarre and toxic realm of white startup culture.
Narrator Zeno Robinson strikes just the right balance in his performance of protagonist Darren Vender’s first-person narrative, hitting both his swaggering cockiness and subsequent regret with equal sensitivity. Robinson also exhibits commanding range with other characters, including Darren’s mom and girlfriend and his white colleagues at the startup. Fast-paced, funny and dark, Askaripour’s stellar debut doesn’t let up in its takedown of corporate racism.