“Powerful” (The Independent) novelist, playwright, and essayist Darryl Pinckney explores issues of racial, sexual, and cultural identity in contemporary America. His semi-autobiographical novel High Cotton tells an irreverent and ironic story of growing up black and upper middle class in the 1960s. In Blackballed he examined 150 years of black participation in the U.S. electoral process. The author of two collections of essays about African-American literature, Pinckney is also a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, Slate, and The Nation, among other publications. His new novel tells the story of a young, gay, black Chicagoan who reinvents himself as an expatriate in Berlin.
A former longtime theater and book reviewer for Newsweek and the New York Times, Margo Jefferson won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for her astute cultural criticism. Her essays and reviews have appeared in a variety of other periodicals, including Vogue, Harper’s Magazine, and New York Magazine, among many others. She is also the author of On Michael Jackson, a balanced analysis of the cultural legacy of the quintessentially American pop star. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Rockefeller Foundation grant, Jefferson currently teaches writing at Columbia University. Her new memoir Negroland explores the author’s upbringing and education amongst a black elite at odds with the contradictions of white America and itself.