Darryl Pinckney Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Born in Indianapolis, Darryl Pinckney (PIHNGK-nee) had a comfortable middle-class childhood. The idealism of the 1950’s flavored his midwestern youth, which he later said he found unspectacular until he traveled from his native Indiana and discovered his blackness. Meanwhile, he attended high school in the suburbs and developed a love for English history and literature, fantasizing about the day he would get to go to England.

Pinckney was a member of the fourth generation of his family to be college-educated. He attended Columbia University, later commenting on his time there that he found himself surrounded by intellectual “weirdness.” Nevertheless, he developed confidence and style in his writing classes. Pinckney tinkered with radical thoughts and attended a few black militant gatherings, but his interest in militancy was short-lived. He went on to graduate study at Princeton University. After leaving the academic environment, he took a number of jobs, eventually attaching himself to writer Djuna Barnes, performing odd jobs and relishing the experience of living around the reclusive author of Nightwood (1937). Pinckney whimsically submitted a book review of Gayle Jones’s Corrigidora (1975). Published, the review opened doors for further work, and The New York Review of Books began to publish his writing. Eventually his freelance status evolved into a staff position.

He lived in Europe for a time, drifting between London, Paris, and Germany, finally settling in Berlin, where he collaborated with an Eastern German playwright, Heiner Müller, writing texts for the theater. Pinckney had grown tired of the commercialism of the...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Als, Hilton. “Word!” The Nation, May 18, 1992, pp. 667-670. Touches on Pinckney’s humor and High Cotton’s theme of personal identity.

Bell, Pearl K. “Fiction Chronicle.” Partisan Review 59, no. 2 (1992): 288-291. Insightful essay-review of High Cotton.

Carroll, Rebecca, comp. Swing Low: Black Men Writing. New York: Carol Southern Books, 1995. Documents the ideas and lives of several black writers and includes thoughtful interviews.

Moore, Lorrie. “The Long Voyage Home.” The New York Review of Books, October 10, 2002, pp. 33-35. Reviews Out There.

White, Edmund, and Nora Kerr. Reviews of High Cotton, by Darryl Pinckney. The New York Times Book Review, February 2, 1992, p. 3. Descriptive and complementary reviews.