CityLit Festival presents The Art of Reinvention

CityLit Festival presents The Art of Reinvention

The Art of Reinvention: How to Chase Success but Not Lose Yourself
Mateo Askaripor in conversation with D. Watkins

3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Lobby Stage



New York Times bestselling novelist MATEO ASKARIPOUR, whose debut novel, an immediate bestseller, Black Buck, is a cautionary tale that reads like the Wolf of Wall Street, serves as a manual on how to survive as ‘other’ in a corporate world, will speak on reinvention and navigating success with Baltimore’s own NYT bestselling, success story, D. WATKINS. When the novel launched, Ron Charles (Washington Post), in a review wrote, “A month ago, I’d never heard of Mateo Askaripour. Today I would buy anything from him.” National Book Foundation named Askaripour a 2023 “5 under 35” recipient. His forthcoming novel, This Great Hemisphere, introduces Sweetmint, a young invisible woman, and illustrates the degree to which reality can be shaped by non-truths and vicious manipulations while shining a light on our ability to surprise ourselves when we stop giving in to the narratives others have written for us. D. Watkins’ most recent book, Black Boy Smile, “is a love letter to Black boys in concrete cities.” Editor-at-Large for Salon, Watkins writes for the HBO mini-series We Own This City, hosts the show’s companion podcast, and was featured in the HBO documentary, The Slow Hustle. This will be a talk, a reading, a conversation with two widely successful authors who talk about keeping it real when success lands at your doorstep.


MATEO ASKARIPOUR’s work aims to empower people of color to seize opportunities for advancement, no matter the obstacle. He was chosen as one of Entertainment Weekly’s “10 rising stars to make waves in 2021” and was a 2018 Rhode Island Writers Colony writer-in-residence. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Entrepreneur, Literary Hub, and elsewhere. His debut novel Black Buck was an instant New York Times bestseller and a Read With Jenna Today Show book club pick. He lives in Brooklyn. In 2016, while managing a team of 30 at an NYC tech startup, Mateo Askaripour decided to pursue writing seriously. He left that job in August, began pitching a manuscript in September. No agent. No book deal. He wrote another. No agent. No book deal. In 2018, he began Black Buck. Agent. Book deal. New York Times best seller. Now, he’s focused on a TV adaptation of Black Buck, and his forthcoming novel, This Great Hemisphere, out July 2024. Black Buck has been compared to Jordan Belfort’s The Wolf of Wall Street, filmed by Martin Scorsese (2013)
Twitter: @AskMateo
Instagram: @askmateo all-it-that-or-not

D. WATKINS is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of The Beast Side, The Cook Up, Where Tomorrows Aren’t Promised, and We Speak for Ourselves (Enoch Pratt Free Library’s 2020 One Book One Baltimore selection). His most recent book, Black Boy Smile, “is a love letter to Black boys in concrete cities, a daring testimony that brings to life the contradictions, fears, and hopes of boys hurdling headfirst into adulthood.” Watkins is Editor-at-Large for Salon. He is a writer on the HBO mini-series We Own This City and hosts the show’s companion podcast. Additionally, he was featured in the HBO documentary, The Slow Hustle. His work has been published in the New York Times, Esquire, New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, Rolling Stone, and other publications. Watkins is a college lecturer at the University of Baltimore, where he earned an MFA in Creative Writing. He also holds a Master of Education degree from Johns Hopkins University.

Some of Watkins’ awards include the Johns Hopkins Distinguished Alumnus Award, the CityLit Dambach Award for Service to the Literary Arts, the Maryland Library Association’s William Wilson Maryland Author Award, and Ford’s Men of Courage Award for Black Male Storytellers. He was also a finalist for a 2016 Hurston Wright Legacy Award, and Black Boy Smile won the 2022 Paris Book Award for General Nonfiction. He lives in Baltimore, MD with his wife and daughter.
Twitter: @dwatkinsworld
Instagram: @dwatkinsworld