Darryl Pinckney

Cindy Seip

Darryl Pinckney is an American novelist, playwright, and essayist. He is the author of the novel, High Cotton (winner of a Los Angeles Times Book Prize), and the works of nonfiction, Blackballed: The Black Vote and U.S. Democracy and Out There: Mavericks of Black Literature, his most recent book of essays. He is a longtime contributor to The New York Review of Books. Pinckney’s Busted in New York and Other Essays is a collection of twenty-five essays that blend the personal and the social and wonders how we arrived at our current moment. It traces the lineage of black intellectual history from Booker T. Washington and the Harlem Renaissance, to the Black Panther Party, today’s Afro-pessimists, and celebrated and neglected thinkers in between. The topics range from the grassroots of protest in Ferguson, Missouri, to the eighteenth-century Guadeloupian composer Joseph Bologne; from an unsparing portrait of Louis Farrakhan to the enduring legacy of James Baldwin, Barry Jenkins’s  Moonlight, and the painter Kara Walker. The essays themselves are a kind of record, many of them written in real-time, as Pinckney witnesses the Million Man March, experiences the highs and lows of Obama’s first presidential campaign, explores the literary black diaspora, and reflects on the surprising and severe lesson he learned firsthand about the changing urban fabric of New York. In the process he also reminds us that “white supremacy isn’t back; it never went away.”