Synopses & Reviews
Jed — young, gay, black, out of rehab and out of prospects in his
hometown of Chicago — flees to the city of his fantasies, a museum of
modernism and decadence: Berlin. The paradise that tyranny created, the
subsidized city isolated behind the Berlin Wall, is where he's chosen to
become the figure that he so admires, the black American expatriate.
Newly sober and nostalgic for the Weimar days of Isherwood and Auden,
Jed arrives to chase boys and to escape from what it means to be a black
male in America.
But history, both personal and political, can't
be avoided with time or distance. Whether it's the judgment of the
cousin he grew up with and her husband's bourgeois German family, the
lure of white wine in a down-and-out bar, a gang of racists looking for a
brawl, or the ravaged visage of Rock Hudson flashing behind the face of
every white boy he desperately longs for, the past never stays past
even in faraway Berlin. In the age of Reagan and AIDS in a city on the
verge of tearing down its walls, he clambers toward some semblance of
adulthood amid the outcasts and expats, intellectuals and artists,
queers and misfits. And, on occasion, the city keeps its Isherwood
promises and the boy he kisses, incredibly, kisses him back.
An intoxicating, provocative novel of appetite, identity, and self-construction, Darryl Pinckney's Black Deutschland tells the story of an outsider, trapped between a painful past and a tenebrous future, in Europe's brightest and darkest city.
“Black Deutschland is beautifully written, the mature work of a
major novelist. Darryl Pinckney has crafted a novel that masterfully
interrogates ideas of home and away, past and present, and community and
isolation, with the clarity, courage, and complexity that only a gifted
artist can.” Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
"What sustains your attention . . . is Pinckney's dolefully witty and
incisively observant voice, whether describing the quirks of his hero's
family ('When the going gets rough, make pancakes,' Jed's father
advises) or evoking the sights, sounds, and even smells of West Berlin,
'the involuntary island, that petri dish of romantic radicalism.'
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." Kirkus Reviews
"Teeming with characters, historical minutiae, and observations on art,
Pinckney’s novel is a lively, inviting, and beautifully written story of
survival by intellect." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
Darryl Pinckney, a longtime contributor to The New York Review of Books, is the author of a novel, High Cotton, and two works of nonfiction, Blackballed: The Black Vote and US Democracy and Out There: Mavericks of Black Literature. He has also collaborated with Robert Wilson on theater projects, most recently an adaption of Daniil Kharm's The Old Woman. He lives in New York.