Tag Archives: New York Review of Books


Darryl Pinckney—longtime contributor to the New York Review of Books and the author of the novel Black Deutschland—will join Margo Jefferson for a conversation about the essays in his new collection Busted in New York, the “cumulative effect of [which]… is a contextualization of recent history in a manner only Pinckney’s prose can articulate.”*


Monday, November 18, at 6:30 pm.

New York Public Library

Wachenheim Trustees Room

476 Fifth Avenue (at 42nd Street), New York City.

From top: Darryl Pinckney, photograph by Dominique Nabokov; Darryl Pinckney, Busted in New York and Other Essays, 2019, cover image courtesy and © Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Margo Jefferson, Negroland: A Memoir, 2015, cover image courtesy and © Pantheon; Jefferson. Images courtesy and © the authors and photographers.



“Recently I wrote a note to accompany Paul Eprile’s translation of Jean Giono’s MELVILLE, which quickly evolved into a novel that has nothing to do with the historical neurasthenic and queer-leaning Herman Melville and everything to do with Giono himself.

“Giono was deeply influenced by American writers… [He] first discovered Walt Whitman in French [and] later studied the ‘American Homer’ in English. He loved Whitman’s all-embracing egalitarianism and his pantheism, and the first part of Giono’s œuvre obviously owes a debt to this passionate revolutionary figure. In Hill, his first novel, Giono tried to illustrate two very Whitmanesque truths:

‘The first of these truths is that there are people, simple and nude; the other is that this earth fleeced [entoisonnée] with woods… this living earth, exists without literature.’

“Cutting down on metaphor and simile (he could never altogether forego them) must have been painful for Giono, so naturally gifted with that kind of eloquence. As Aristotle suggest in The Rhetoric, metaphor is one of the greatest ornaments of writing but also the one no one can learn.” — Edmund White, The Unpunished Vice

White’s blend of memoir and literary criticism is out now.



Top image credit: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Above: Edmund White and Zadie Smith at a writers’ festival in Florence, 2017. Image credit: Édouard Louis‘ Twitter.

Below, from left: Bernard Buffet, Jean Giono, and Pierre Bergé in Manosque, June 16, 1950. Image credit: Musée Yves Saint Laurent, Paris.


“Cities are full of all kinds of people. Some of them watch ISIS videos all day long. Others read conspiracy blogs and hate-filled online screeds. Such material acts as a screen between citizen and reality; it functions like virtual-reality headsets. You slip them on and they allow you to walk into a Charleston church and see only ‘scum,’ or drive along a downtown bike lane and see only ‘scum.’ We can tighten visa laws and build our walls, but they will be poor defense against such ideologies, which are free-floating and borderless and whose goggles can be worn by anyone. Most of the terror attacks in America have been committed by Americans. (Some of the most terrifying have been committed by gun-toting Americans with no obvious ideological commitments at all, employing a different kind of mask between citizen and reality: narcissism.) It’s amazing what a narrative can make someone do. We cannot give up on offering alternative stories. Here’s one about the people of New York: we are not scum. We are every variety of human. Some of us voted for a government that caused the destruction of cities far away. Some of us didn’t. Some of us are dopers and junkies. Some of us are preschool teachers and nuns. None of us deserve to be killed in the street. We are a multiplicity of humans in an elastic social arrangement that can be stretched in many directions. It’s not broken yet. I have no idea if it will break soon—but it’s not broken yet. And here comes the rain, clearing the streets, for an hour maybe, even for a whole afternoon. We’ll be back out tomorrow.”

Zadie Smith, last paragraph of “Under the Banner of New York”—New York Review of Books, November 4, 2017—written in response to the October, 2017 truck-attack in Lower Manhattan. Smith—joined in conversation by Michael Chabon—takes the stage at Royce Hall this week.


ZADIE SMITH and MICHAEL CHABON—A CONVERSATION, Thursday, November 30, at 8 pm.

ROYCE HALL, UCLA, 10745 Dickson Court, Los Angeles.


Zadie Smith.




“[The black presence in the contemporary art scene] almost feels as though an Occupy High Art movement is happening….How black people have been seen in history continues to influence how they are seen today. Yet the high visibility of blacks in the art world hasn’t done away with the critical defensiveness that made the controversy at this year’s Whitney Biennial over Dana Schutz’s painting of Emmett Till such an embarrassing turf war among the second-rate. Till, age 14, was beaten to death in 1955 in Mississippi for supposedly having whistled at a white woman. The painting has no power unless, or until, you think of the horrific image of Till in his open casket on which it was based.”

From Darryl Pinckney, “The Trickster’s Art” (a piece on Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Kehinde Wiley, and the Regarding the Figure show at the Studio Museum in Harlem), New York Review of Books LXIV.13 (August 17, 2017): 50.

Pinckney is a novelist, longtime contributor to The New York Review, and partner of James Fenton (who was introduced to Pinckney by Susan Sontag in the Paris Bar in Berlin in 1990). Pinckney’s latest book—Black Deutschland: A Novel—is the story of a young, gay, post-drug-rehab Chicagoan in 1980s Berlin.

See Deesha Philyaw’s Rumpus interview with Pinckney.

Left to right: New York Review of Books editor Robert Silvers, Darryl Pinckney, publisher Rea Hederman, and, seated, Susan Sontag.

Photograph by Dominique Nabokov.