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.
It’s hard to think of a recent novel that so vividly and sensually brings to life a time and place. Black Deutschland sees Berlin like a flaneur and a guide, chattily leading us deeper and deeper into its interior spaces.
This is the sort of novel you find yourself reading aloud to those within earshot, because you can’t quite believe how often the autumnal-intellectual tone Mr. Pinckney searches for veers instead toward ripe nonsense ... Black Deutschland works best, and loses its hydroponic quality, when it is grounded in the soil of close observation. Mr. Pinckney is very good, for example, on the intricacies of race and class.