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Darryl Pinckney Biography

(1953– ), High Cotton, The New York Review of Books, Granta

black african cotton american

African-American writer, educated at Columbia University. Like the unnamed hero of High Cotton (1992), the novel which established his reputation, Pinckney grew up the son of a monied African-American family. ‘High Cotton’ refers to cotton easy to pick—the implication being that the black bourgeoisie, the ‘Also Chosen’, has been able to sidestep much of America's racial dispensations. To an extent, Pinckney's unnamed hero bears this out; he has means, a good education, time to loaf, an initial readiness to assimilate. But he also has old-time Southern kin, notably his preacher grandfather Eustace who, though he graduated from Harvard and Brown, helps him see the fuller context of his blackness. He finds himself forced to rethink black Dixie, the black legacy of the 1960s, and above all, himself as modern African-American. The novel reads as much as a meditation as a fictional autobiography. Although Pinckney continues to write for journals like The New York Review of Books and Granta, it is High Cotton which has marked him out as a radically gifted stylist.

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