Buck

Spiegel & Grau/Random House, 2013 | Memoir | MK Asante

Buck

"A story of surviving and thriving with passion, compassion, wit, and style." -Maya Angelou

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Buck is a powerful memoir of how a rebellious, precocious kid educated himself through the most unconventional teachers—outlaws and eccentrics, rappers and mystic strangers, ghetto philosophers and strippers, and, eventually, an alternative school that transformed his life with a single blank sheet of paper. It’s a one-of-a-kind story about finding your purpose in life, and an inspiring tribute to the power of art.

*Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick
*NAACP Image Award Nominee Outstanding Literary Work

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‘Buck’ Synopsis

A rebellious boy’s journey through the wilds of urban America and the shrapnel of a self-destructing family–this is the riveting story of a generation told through one dazzlingly poetic new voice.

MK Asante was born in Zimbabwe to American parents: a mother who led the new nation’s dance company and a father who would soon become a revered pioneer in Black Studies. But things fell apart and a little more than a decade later MK was back in America, lost in a fog of drugs, sex, and violence on the streets of North Philadelphia. Now he was alone—his mother in an asylum, his father gone, his older brother locked up in a prison on the other side of the country—and forced to find his own way to survive physically, mentally, and spiritually, by any means necessary.

Buck is a powerful memoir of how a precocious kid educated himself through the most unconventional teachers—outlaws and eccentrics, rappers and mystic strangers, ghetto philosophers and strippers, and, eventually, an alternative school that transformed his life with a single blank sheet of paper. It’s a one-of-a-kind story about finding your purpose in life, and an inspiring tribute to the power of education, art, and love to heal and redeem us.

buck n: a fashionable and typically hell-raising young man. 2 racial slur used to describe black men. 3 a young black man: what’s up young buck? 4 the act of becoming wild and uncontrollable: he went buck wild. 5 a dollar. 6 to fire gunshots: buck shots in the air. 7 to go against, rebel: buck the system.

Praise for ‘Buck’

  • “Frequently brilliant and always engaging… It takes great skill to render the wide variety of characters, male and female, young and old, that populate a memoir like "Buck." ... A powerful and captivating book."

    —LA Times Read Full Review
  • “Buck is a story of surviving and thriving with passion, compassion, wit and style. MK Asante’s story is necessary to us all.”

    —Maya Angelou Read Full Review
  • "Asante's noir chronicle is imaginative, powerful, and electric, written with passion and conviction."

    —Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review) Read Full Review
  • "The debut of a remarkable talent ... Asante’s prose is a fluid blend of vernacular swagger and tender poeticism."

    —Salon Read Full Review
  • “Asante is the voice of a new generation. . . . You will love nearly everything about Buck.”

    —Essence Read Full Review
  • “A virtuoso performance . . . [an] extraordinary page-turner of a memoir . . . written in a breathless, driving hip-hop prose style that gives it a tough, contemporary edge.”

    —The Philadelphia Inquirer Read Full Review
  • “This is an inspiring story about perseverance and finding purpose that is sure to appeal to readers interested in hip-hop, black studies, and American pop culture in general.”

    —Booklist (Starred Review)
  • "Lyrical prose ... moving account of growing up and out of the “Killadelphia” of the 1990s. ... All of which highly recommends this memoir."

    —Library Journal
  • “In America, we have a tradition of black writers whose autobiographies and memoirs come to define an era. . . . Buck may be this generation’s story.”

    —NPR Read Full Review
  • "MK Asante's Buck takes the daily words of the American streets and forges something low and lovely. Angry, profane and beautiful, it honors the best of hip-hop's literary canon, by producing a work worthy of inclusion. Here is crack era Philadelphia flipped into a phrase which we've so long needed, but so rarely heard."

    —Ta-nehisi Coates, senior editor, Atlantic Magazine
  • “MK Asante takes back the 90s Black American experience that we've seen chopped, screwed, co-opted and gives it an original voice singing a song that will force all of America to face what it has become and remember what it could be.”

    —Eddie Huang, author of Fresh Off The Boat
  • "Asante is a hip-hop raconteur, a storyteller in the Homeric tradition, an American, a rhymer, a big-thinker singing a song of himself. You’ll want to listen."

    —Buffalo News Read Full Review
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