At the Strangers’ Gate

Arrivals in New York

Publisher: Knopf Canada
A vivid memoir that captures the energy, ambition and romance of New York in the 1980s from the beloved New Yorker Canadian writer, to stand alongside his bestselling Paris to the Moon and Through the Children's Gate.

When Adam Gopnik and his soon-to-be-wife, Martha Parker, left the comforts of home in Montreal for New York, the city then, much like today, was a pilgrimage site for the young and the arty and ambitious. But it was also becoming a city of greed, where both life's consolations and its necessities were increasingly going to the highest bidder. At the Stranger's Gate builds a portrait of this moment in New York through the story of their journey--from their excited arrival as aspiring artists to their eventual growth into a New York family. Gopnik transports us to their tiny basement room on the Upper East Side--the smallest apartment in Manhattan--and later to SoHo, where he captures a unicorn: an affordable New York loft. Between tender, laugh-out-loud reminiscences, including affectionate portraits of New York luminaries from Richard Avedon to Robert Hughes and Jeff Koons, Gopnik takes us into the corridors of Condé Nast, the galleries of MoMA and many places between to illuminate the fascinating world capital of creativity and aspiration that is New York, then and now.



“A riveting and incandescent chronicle of personal evolution vividly set within the ever-morphing, cocaine-stoked crucible of ferocious ambition that was 1980s Manhattan. [Gopnik] tells tales of the forging of a marriage; of nightmares apartment battles with verminous hordes; of fortuitous jobs at museums, men’s fashion magazines, and a book publisher; and of bonds developed with critic Robert Hughes, artist Jeff Koons, and, most profoundly, photographer Richard Avedon. Arabesque, captivating, self-deprecating, and affecting, Gopnik’s cultural and intimate reflections, in league with those of Alfred Kazin and Joan Didion, are rich in surprising moments and delving perceptions into chance, creativity, character, style, conviction, hard work, and love.” —Booklist (starred review)


Gopnik is a wonder of a writer. This book is that rarity, an intelligent meditation that is also a pleasurable time spent with a lively thinker. . . . He's the very model of urbanity: frankly, unsentimentally, wisely enchanted.” —Los Angeles Times
“The results can be rather breathless but Gopnik has a gift . . . for somehow standing apart from the scene in which he finds himself.” —The Daily Telegraph

“Adam Gopnik writes like the longstanding contributor to the New Yorker that he is. Which is to say, he has a voice that is by turns conversational and dandyish, regular Joe and Ivy League, fancy about everyday pleasures (sport, food) and defiantly unawed about those subjects that are supposed to matter more (art, philosophy). Lots of people write, have written, for the New Yorker, and clearly they don’t all sound the same—Updike is not Thurber, Dorothy Parker is not Janet Malcolm—but you can’t deny a family resemblance. Perhaps it’s a confidence thing, a feeling that it is the voice, rather than the subject, that is the point: whether it’s Gopnik on Paris, Gopnik on Abraham Lincoln or, as in [The Table Comes First], Gopnik on food. . . . It is actually an extended piece of journalism in that fine New Yorker tradition, and all the more pleasurable for it.” —The Guardian

“[Gopnik] can manipulate language until it becomes its own sensual pleasure.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer 

Adam Gopnik . . . is the E.B. White of our time.” —Winnipeg Free Press