REVIEWS

"Among A Lucky Man’s many wonderful accomplishments — the way the length of each story affords its characters room to move; the use of linear, progressive time to knit the individual stories into a social fabric, à la Alice Munro or Wideman — one in particular is genuinely path-clearing. Brinkley offers visions of manhood and masculinity that demonstrate candor without false intensity, desire without ownership. His male characters have fictional experiences that, in the hands of the right reader, can become equipment for living." - LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS

"Set mostly in Brooklyn, the nine stories in this debut collection are full of subtle poignancy... Each story is a trenchant exploration of race and class, vividly conveying the tension between social codes of masculinity and the vulnerable, volatile self." - THE NEW YORKER

"With this observant book, Brinkley demonstrates an enviable capacity for narrative compression. In the space of 25 pages, he’s capable of creating complex and memorable emotional worlds. This is a very hard thing to do, but in A Lucky Man, he pulls it off in one story after the next." - MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE

"[A] singular collection... Brinkley's portrait of New York and its edges are full of people who feel contained pushing at the boundaries of their lives... Through pages of peerless prose and startlingly sharp sentences, what ultimately emerges is a constantly reframed argument about the role and power of masculinity." - L.A. TIMES

"[A Lucky Man] is intent on recognizing what masculinity looks like, questioning our expectations of it, and criticizing its toxicity — and somehow managing to do all of that with love. . . . And while it's clearly a topic that concerns him, Brinkley's book isn't only about masculinity. It also deals in family relationships, love, aging, loss, and disappointment — the universal themes that keep us coming back to literature — while also conveying versions of black male experience. In fact, the collection may include only nine stories, but in each of them, Brinkley gives us an entire world." - NPR BOOKS

"With equal parts precision and poetry, these nine audacious stories step into the minefields awaiting boys of color as they approach manhood in Brooklyn and the Bronx—testing the limits of relationships, social norms, and their own definitions of masculinity." - O: THE OPRAH MAGAZINE

"One of the many striking qualities in Brinkley’s stories is how precarious his male characters tend to be, so uncertain, deep down, of their cocky masculinity. He observes his characters from a small distance, watching patiently as their swagger, their anger, their love and lust deflate like a leaky balloon. It’s an extraordinary process to witness... Brinkley’s stories ... together become a series of small tragedies." - THE PARIS REVIEW (STAFF PICKS)

"In Brinkley’s work, no character is left untended, no aspect of identity is overlooked, and the results are well-inhabited worlds that feel infinite. A lot of short stories exist in a snow globe, but the nine stories presented here are each a big bang. They burst forth through space and time. They are larger than the sum of their components... A Lucky Man is not only a standout debut for the year, but also a testament to what can be achieved in a short story." - CHICAGO REVIEW OF BOOKS

"Brinkley’s commitment to creating complex characters and allowing them to exist as they are, regardless of the consequences, is one of his many strengths. . . . The precision through which Brinkley employs detail gives his stories such a rich and singular feel that it’s hard to compare him to anybody." - THE ADROIT JOURNAL

"There’s something magical about a great story collection...  In A Lucky Man, Jamel Brinkley’s stunning debut collection, the stories are not formally linked, and yet they are, implicitly, by their beautiful prose, by their intimate gaze at character, by their focus on black men, by their setting in New York City. These are stories that can be read again and again... A collection as fine as this, of fiction that is reflecting our world and searching for the truth, is one to be treasured, read and reread, admired, and loved." - PLOUGHSHARES

"In this tight, polished story collection, Brinkley tackles issues related to masculinity, fatherhood (including the impact of absentee fathers), and the multi-faceted ugly beast of racism and the lives it has marred... This is an assured and important collection that could not be more timely." - KENYON REVIEW

"A Lucky Man ... is an urgent collection that compels us to reconsider the ways we understand manhood... This collection gives a deeply human and deeply affecting account of living in the world, of searching for connection and longing for love. A Lucky Man demands our attention. Few works in the frenetic energy of the modern moment are capable of capturing us as fully. Brinkley’s prose, the ferocity and authenticity of his narratives do; they astound and wound." - THE MASTERS REVIEW

"Brinkley explores black men under both the pressurized violence and bottled up tenderness that undoes them at every turn. This is a book that acknowledges male stereotypes while subverting them and exploring the psychic damage they leave in their wake... A Lucky Man is as compulsive to read as an addictive novel." - KQED ARTS - THE SPINE

"Told in nine vivid short stories, Jamel Brinkley’s debut collection, A Lucky Man, tugs sharply at the tender threads of intimacy, race, and masculinity. Brinkley’s prose, as fierce in its vigilance as it is in its empathy, casts new light on the delicate and heartbreaking truisms of American manhood... Each of Brinkley’s true-to-life stories offers the reader marvelous depth and insight..." - DUENDE

"Brinkley’s first collection portrays young African American men struggling with fathers, brothers, and friends, present or absent. What impresses first is the length and strength, the sheer weightiness of each detailed and meditative story. Brinkley doesn’t flick off moments but shows how each contains multitudes... Fully developed stories that readers will savor." - LIBRARY JOURNAL

"A Lucky Man will be introduced to syllabi across the country and beyond upon its release, that much is certain. The fact that it is a debut is astonishing. Brinkley innately understands the pulses and rhythms of the English language. Every short story could only have been written sentence by limpid sentence, weighed in the mouth before set to the page." - THE WILDS

"An assured debut collection of stories about men and women, young and old, living and loving along the margins in Brooklyn and the Bronx... It’s difficult to single out any story as most outstanding since they are each distinguished by Brinkley’s lyrical invention, precise descriptions of both emotional and physical terrain, and a prevailing compassion toward people as bemused by travail as they are taken aback by whatever epiphanies blossom before them. A major talent." - KIRKUS (STARRED REVIEW)

"In nine perceptive stories about broken families, loners, and social outcasts in search of redemption, Brinkley’s stunning debut depicts urban life in all its lonely, wearying detail. Set in Brooklyn and the Bronx, in poor neighborhoods and on school campuses, these tales are imbued with pathos, sexuality, and moments of violence and tenderness. With this memorable collection, Brinkley emerges as a gifted and empathetic new writer." - BOOKLIST (STARRED REVIEW)

PRESS

T MAGAZINE: “Black Male Writers for Our Time

VULTURE: “Vulture Insiders Book Club

LITHUB: “Meet National Book Award Finalist Jamel Brinkley

TIN HOUSE: “Dear Reader: A Q&A with Jamel Brinkley

WILDNESS: “An Interview with Jamel Brinkley

THE ADROIT JOURNAL: “World Before Page (Interview)

THE RUMPUS: “In the Spirit of Curiosity (Interview)

GRUBSTREET: “Craft, Process & Finding the Life

THE CEDAR RAPIDS GAZETTE: “Author Profile: Jamel Brinkley

NEW YORK TIMES: "By the Book: George Pelecanos"

EPIPHANY JOURNAL: "An Interview with Jamel Brinkley, author of A Lucky Man"

LITERARY HUB: "On Writing a Short Story (Interview)"

CHICAGO REVIEW OF BOOKS: "The Best Books of 2018 So Far"

OPRAH.COM: "The 15 Best Books to Take to the Beach This June"

VULTURE: "Curtis Sittenfeld's 10 Favorite Books"

POETS & WRITERS MAGAZINE: "First Fiction 2018"

LITHUB: "5 Writers, 7 Questions, No Wrong Answers"

MIDWESTERN GOTHIC: "Interview: Jamel Brinkley"

NYLON: "15 Must-Read Books For May"

A.V. CLUB: "5 Books to Read in May"

KQED FORUM: "Writer Jamel Brinkley Explores Black Masculinity in A Lucky Man"

NEW YORK MAGAZINE: "The Approval Matrix: Week of April 30, 2018"

THE MILLIONS: "May Preview: The Millions Most Anticipated"

LITHUB: "15 Books You Should Read This May"

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: "20 new books to read in May"

BOOKRIOT: "New Releases Podcast (May 1, 2018)"

VOL. 1 BROOKLYN: "May 2018 Book Preview"

FICTION ADVOCATE: "What to Read in May"

AMERICAN BOOKSELLERS ASSOCIATION: "A Q&A With Jamel Brinkley, Author of May’s #1 Indie Next List Pick"

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: "Author Jamel Brinkley lets the surprises in his stories sneak up on him"

APOGEE: "Don't Pander to Your Presumed Reader (Interview)"

CRAFT LITERARY: "Interview: Jamel Brinkley"

ELECTRIC LITERATURE: "If You Know, Love, or Are a Black Man... (Interview)"

AMERICAN BOOKSELLERS ASSOCIATION: "May 2018 Indie Next List (#1 PICK)"

AMERICAN SHORT FICTION: "The Art of Staring: An Interview with Jamel Brinkley"

AM TO DM (BUZZFEED NEWS): "Spring Reading List"

BUZZFEED BOOKS: "21 Amazing New Books You Need To Read This Spring"

VULTURE: "10 Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Spring"

THE ROOT: "These New and Upcoming Books by Black Authors Will Give You Life in These Perilous Times"

THE MASTERS REVIEW BLOG: "22 Books We’re Looking Forward To This Year"

BUZZFEED: "The 33 Most Exciting New Books Of 2018"

THE MILLIONS: "Most Anticipated: The Great 2018 Book Preview"

THE STRAND: "Strand Buyer’s Preview: Books we’re most excited to read in 2018!"

HUFFPOST: "60 Books We Can’t Wait To Read In 2018"

NYLON: "50 Books We Can’t Wait To Read In 2018"

LIBRARY JOURNAL: "Literary Fiction Previews, May 2018"

INDIES INTRODUCE: "Independent Booksellers’ Debut Picks of the Season - Winter / Spring 2018"