Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.93 shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Black Deutschland: A Novel Hardcover – February 2, 2016
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Praise for Black Deutschland
"Never without charm . . . The book's form, like its prose, is ambitious, risky . . . The novel is full of wondrous things―several genial character portraits, funny and exact depictions of West Berlin, [and] beautiful evocations of Chicago . . . Despite the gravity of Jed's burdens and dilemmas (race, success, sanity, America, Germany), the book's tone is comic, pleasingly spry, and the prose breaks naturally into witty one-liners [and] perfected wisdom." ―The New Yorker
“Without a hint of sloganeering, Pinckney evokes in these scenes a melancholia that transcends his narrator, achieving something rare in fiction―an honestly-come-by sense of cultural and political sadness. . . . a significant contribution.” ―Adam Haslett, The New York Times
"Pinckney writes with profound understanding . . . It's hard to think of a recent novel that so vividly and sensually brings to life a time and place . . . In recent years, Baldwin has come zooming back into American life because we all wish he were here to dress down the racism so rampant in this country. But there’s more to him than being a quotable stick to swing at police videos. In this gorgeous novel, Pinckney demonstrates what that is by carrying the great writer’s project forward." ―John Freeman, The Boston Globe
"Vibrant . . . Pinckney improvises and revises the form he’s adopted, avoiding the temptation to lead Jed to easy resolution. In a novel about escaping the confines of home, family, racial narratives, and self-loathing, he argues that accepting those constraints is vital for the narrative of the autobiographical self to emerge. While Pinckney’s prose and formal approach in Black Deutschland point to literary ancestors like W.E.B. Du Bois, James Baldwin, Elizabeth Hardwick, and Christopher Isherwood, the avuncular influence of the Harlem Renaissance writer Claude McKay is perhaps most strongly felt." ―Walton Muyumba, The Atlantic
"The distinctive voice narrating Black Deutschland compels an audience to listen . . . A mesmerizing performance." ―Brett Josef Grubisic, Lambda Literary
"Black Deutschland not only channels Isherwood, but also suggests Ellison's Invisible Man and Teju Cole's more recent Open City―each one the tale of an outsider whose sharp observations and sometimes sardonic humor are partly made possible because all three are more comfortable watching than participating . . . Each of [Pinckney's] vignettes comes our way through writing that's consistently trenchant and fresh . . . Writing like that makes it easy to keep faith with Black Deutschland and its lonely protagonist, even as he struggles to believe in either the world or himself." ―Mike Fischer, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"What's never in doubt is how deeply you're immersed in Jed's impulsive, if occasionally deluded mind . . . For readers up for a fiendishly tricky tour of 20th-century gay, racial and Cold War history and politics, Black Deutschland is a must." ―Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times
"Black Deutschland is a bildungsroman in which all is in flux: identity, sexuality, family, place―even time itself . . . No one is quite who they claim to be, or aim to be. Nor are there any glib resolutions . . . A life and a self are many things―pain and ecstasy, both fleeting, both true." ―Dotun Akintoye, O, The Oprah Magazine
"Quietly provocative . . . A rich experience." ―Parul Kapur Hinzen, The Rumpus
"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)
"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'sThe Notebooks of Marte Laurids Brigge, typifies an era in which inventive, idiosyncratic styles flourish anew in African-American writing." ―Kirkus Reviews
“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.
"This is the book we have been waiting for since we read the Berlin Stories of Christopher Isherwood, although we had no reason to assume it would ever be written. Darryl Pinckney is an unlikely pioneer: a black writer from Indiana who somehow ended up in the divided city of the seventies and eighties and fell in love with it, an alien equipped with Isherwood's curiosity and sharp eye for Berlin's absurdities, but far more open to his own passions and hangups--which allowed him to connect with the unofficial soul of the city in those years. He is a poet gifted with a unique mix of melancholy and anarchic humor. We want him back." ―Peter Schneider
“What Christopher Isherwood did for Weimar Berlin, Darryl Pinckney has done, more profoundly, for Berlin behind the wall. This haunted, rebuilt city is the perfect setting for an exploration of the artist as a young, black, gay man, unable to shake off his own troubled past. A beautiful book, witty, sophisticated, and intensely moving.” ―Ian Buruma
“Pinckney has magically pulled off space-time travel into the heart of a young gay black American man living in West Berlin just before the Wall comes down. This book gives the intimate feel of that strange era of total freedom; what does a confused, lonely man do when he is finally free? For that matter, what does his wealthy, beautiful cousin (who speaks to him in German) do with her freedom? Here is the whole bohemian world of Berlin, living on the edge of a volcano.” ―Edmund White
Praise for Darryl Pinckney’s High Cotton
“The beauty and intelligence radiating from High Cotton are not a lucky hit by a talented beginner, but rather the considered achievement of a seasoned mind. Seasoning, of course, is no guarantee of originality, but Darryl Pinckney also has a distinctive voice and vision.” ―Edmund White, The New York Times
“The style of High Cotton is tight and elliptical, packed with metaphor and allusion. One is richly rewarded, however, for taking one’s time. This writer’s debut as a novelist is an auspicious one.” ―James Idema, Chicago Tribune
“With High Cotton, Pinckney joins the first ranks of American writers . . . A major achievement.” ―Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The Washington Post Book World
“An extraordinary achievement . . . This tender, often droll portrait of one young life is also an arrestingly mature, original account of the condition of being black through several generations and of America in the sixties―a major part of our history. It is also beautifully written, exhilaratingly intelligent, and a joy to read.” ―Susan Sontag
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.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Still, having lived through the same era I enjoyed the different perspective. - The book would have benefited from better editing to eliminate some grammatical error with the German language and to tighten the plot.
In addition to his narrator, Mr. Pinckney peoples this novel with completely realized characters—some of whom he fleshes out with just a paragraph or two—who totally captivate you. The list is long: Cello, Jed’s cousin, a classical pianist with wild hair; her German husband Dram; the architect Rosen-Montag, who gives Jed his first job in Berlin; Manfred, the humpy straight friend; the otherworldly handsome and sexy Duallo; Jed’s family back in Chicago; and the regulars at the bar named ChiChi. And certainly the city of Berlin with all its history and mystery becomes a character as well. While I am aware that one of my favorite writers of fiction, Colm Toibin, says that it is not a writer’s job to give the reader likeable characters but rather fully-realized ones—if I am quoting him accurately—I still like characters whom I like, and that applies to many of Mr. Pinckney’s. How about Jed’s parents just to name two? His father, who always looks out for his mother, is so good with little quotes: “’These are pancake days’” and “’You’re wise even when you’re flying a kite.’” Jed describes him as a “black man who wore a bow tie and was never mistaken for a Black Muslim.” Jed didn’t come from a black family who prayed. “Jesus was not in our closets.” And the family goes its names from Black Reconstruction. His mother, a social worker who always is looking out for her “crazies,” is a woman full of love “She said some people are alone even though they’re married, but she hadn’t been one of them. Dad was her soul mate.” She goes on to say that she could not ask for more in a daughter-in-law, to be her son’s soul mate, and here is all the more reason to love this character: “Or of anyone I [Jed] chose to care about, she said.”
Mr. Pinckney, as we would expect from a good writer, does wonderful things with words: Butterfly becomes a verb. He describes a black American proprietor in a junk shop in Berlin whose “toupee made him look like a Motown nostalgia act.” The character Duallo “sat within smelling distance.” And the narrator, on a walk across town in West Berlin: “In front of a late restaurant, comfortable people were having suppers of white asparagus and white wine under soft garden lights. I was not Invisible, I was that worse thing, Unwanted, a sign badly written and stuck with masking tape on my back.” Finally here and there in Mr. Pinckney’s narrative, he may include a paragraph about Frederick Douglas, Aunt Jemima, Cain from Genesis, Louis Armstrong et al. that he manages to tie in with where his novel is going.
Like James Baldwin (ANOTHER COUNTRY and GIOVANNI'S ROOM) this author explores the lives of Americans abroad, although Mr. Baldwin's characters abroad are white. Jed in this novel is alienated from his home but also at times homesick. He is a reminder of the difficulty of finding one’s way in the world, particularly if you are a black gay American and how you connect to everyone in that world including your family.
A good, good novel.
The romance with Duallo could have made for a great novella; the rest is a collection of meandering impressions.