Books by Darryl Pinckney

Released: Nov. 12, 2019

"A deeply satisfying, beautifully crafted collection of work by a writer of uncommon excellence and humanity."
Fiercely intelligent essays, reportage, and reviews from the award-winning novelist and nonfiction writer. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 17, 2017

"An essential compendium of midcentury American intellectual life, one that reaffirms the personal and cultural importance of literature."
A career-spanning collection of essays, reviews, criticism, and more from a co-founder of the New York Review of Books. Read full book review >
BLACK DEUTSCHLAND by Darryl Pinckney
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"Pinckney's discursive novel, coming across as if it were a late-20th-century hipster version of Rilke's The Notebooks of Marte Laurids Brigge, typifies an era in which inventive, idiosyncratic styles flourish anew in African-American writing."
He's black. He's gay. He's a recovering substance abuser. And he's running around Berlin during the 1980s. For the most part, Pinckney's novel succeeds at being as intriguing as its premise. Read full book review >
BLACKBALLED by Darryl Pinckney
Released: Sept. 30, 2014

"Not a manifesto but a thoughtful examination of ideas that others have been circulating."
A slim volume of two essays that challenge the very notion of a "post-racial" America. Read full book review >
HIGH COTTON by Darryl Pinckney
Released: Feb. 1, 1992

This autobiographical first novel delights in irreverence and irony—its politically incorrect narrator refuses to sacrifice his much-cultivated individuality for a ready-made racial identity. He's black, blue, and bourgeois—Ellison's Invisible Man getting drunk with Frederick Exley. Fragmented and episodic, Pinckney's daring narrative begins in Indiana ``on the glossy edge of the New Frontier,'' when the young narrator looks into his future among the ``Also Chosen,'' the suburban answer to ``the Talented Tenth'' of well-educated and polite Negroes. But hovering over the rosy scene is Ivy-educated Grandfather Eustace (``the arch darky''), whose failure at everything, including itinerant preaching, presages his unnamed grandson's own will to dissipate. Nerdy and precocious, the adolescent Anglophile discovers ``the social stratification of being a black-power advocate in a suburban high school.'' But his involvement with a Black Panther splinter group (the Heirs of Malcolm) ends with his purge for ``flunkyism.'' A trip to beloved England finds London as depressing as downtown Indianapolis. College days are served on the edge of Harlem (the ``Valley of the Shines''), where Black Muslims and street hustlers mark him as college boy and rube. His only black friend in school is the flamboyant and sexy Bargetta, who dates only whites. After Columbia, our hero slums on Morningside Heights; hangs out in a working-class bar; works for Djuna Barnes as a part-time handyman. He coasts through a job in publishing; moves to Manhattan's Pomander Walk; attends a Farrakhan rally; and suffers through a dinner party with black yuppies. While he halfheartedly tries to make his way in the world, family keeps tugging at his conscience and consciousness—Aunt Clara in ``the Old Country'' down south; Uncle Castor, the aging jazzman; and Grandfather Eustace in mental decline. Ultimately, Pinckney's unhip narrator embraces art not ideology, loneliness not a lifestyle. Pinckney mocks the racial shibboleths, deftly turns the ironist inward, and scorns his self-indulgence. His voice—in perfect tones and full of timbre—speaks to, not for, ``the black experience'' among those who value character over color. Read full book review >