At the Strangers' Gate | Penguin Random House Canada

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]n incisive tribute to the dying days of the old New York.” —Toronto Life
“What stands out in the finest book of [Gopnik’s] distinguished career is how disciplined he is, how self-consciously true to his essayist predecessors. . . . Simply put, Gopnik pulls it off. . . . At the Strangers’ Gate abounds with brief, reader-enticing, question-begging asides. . . . A love story encased in ongoing social psychosis—At the Strangers’ Gate in a nutshell.” —Maclean’s
[A]n elegant reflection on life. . . . [At the Strangers’ Gate] is a vivid, humourous and passionate recounting of Gopnik and his soon-to-be-wife Martha as the aspiring creatives make their way up the career ladder, one step, and misstep, at a time.” —CBC Books
“True to [Gopnik’s] celebrated style, his reach is high and far. At the Strangers’ Gate provides a great deal of insight into the then-burgeoning community of artists and the artistic world of SoHo and beyond. . . . [Gopnik] crafts humorous passages with the equal elegance and touching effect of his more didactic writings. . . . Gopnik’s language is always precise and definitive. Almost every page yields an aphoristic nugget to examine further for its rich vein of thought and insight.” —The Canadian Jewish News
Gopnik’s sentences build into paragraphs that are architectural feats. . . . New York memoirs fill a groaning library shelf. What sets this effort apart are both the well-worked sentences and the unchallenging nature of the protagonist’s journey.” —The Guardian


“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)