The Only Book You Need to Read This Month
Jed is a gay, black dilettante who near the end of the Cold War moves from Chicago to Berlin, a city somehow at the center of the world yet cut off from it. But Jed, who labors against a personal history of failure and addiction, is not the typical young hero on a quest for experience and knowledge.
Black Deutschland is a bildungsroman in which all is in flux: identity, sexuality, family, place—even time itself. And like Jed's cousin Cello, a brilliant pianist whose facade of a perfect life is cracking, no one is quite who they claim to be, or aim to be.
Nor are there any glib resolutions. Just "another lexicographer of desire and ruin" is what Jed calls himself at the end of the novel. But several pages earlier, on the night the Berlin Wall falls and the city for a moment seems to fulfill his hopes, Jed takes a stranger by the arm, and together they dance in moonlight beneath the Brandenburg Gate. A life and a self are many things—pain and ecstasy, both fleeting, both true.