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‘A dazzling talent’ Malcolm Gladwell

When Adam Gopnik and his soon-to-be-wife, Martha, left the comforts of home in Montreal for New York, the city then, much like today, was a pilgrimage site for the young, the arty, and the 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 Strangers’ Gate builds a portrait of this particular moment in New York through the story of this couple’s journey–from their excited arrival as aspiring artists to their eventual growth into a New York family. Gopnik transports us to his tiny basement room on the Upper East Side, and later to SoHo, where he captures a unicorn: an affordable New York loft. He takes us through his professional meanderings, from graduate student-cum-library-clerk to the corridors of Conde Nast and the galleries of MoMA.

Between tender and humorous reminiscences, including affectionate portraits of Richard Avedon, Robert Hughes, and Jeff Koons, among many others, Gopnik discusses the ethics of ambition, the economy of creative capital, and the peculiar anthropology of art and aspiration in New York, then and now.


Engaging, witty, thoughtful, clever, casual, ebullient, erudite and thoroughly modern
Spectator, on Adam Gopnik
Gopnik's mind darts about like mercury as he tells his tale
The Times, on Adam Gopnik
The distinctive brilliance of Gopnik's essays lies in his ability to pick up a subject one would never have believed possible to think deeply about then cover it in thoughts. He is truly able to see the whole world in a grain of sand
Alain de Botton, New York Times Book Review, on Adam Gopnik
Adam Gopnik's avid intelligence and nimble pen . . . Conscientious, scrupulously savvy
John Updike, on Adam Gopnik
Adam Gopnik is a dazzling talent - hilarious, winning and deft
Malcolm Gladwell, on Adam Gopnik
By virtue of his exceptional observational and analytical powers, acute emotional and moral exactitude, and charmingly rueful sense of humor, he turns in a riveting and incandescent chronicle of personal evolution vividly set within the ever-morphing, cocaine-stoked crucible of ferocious ambition that was 1980s Manhattan . . . 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.
Donna Seaman, Booklist
Gopnik has written with entrancing penetration on just about everything . . . He's one of the silkiest stylists around
Christopher Bray, Spectator
Anyone who worries that artificial intelligence might some day outpace the faulty circuitry inside human heads should be cheered by the existence of Adam Gopnik. His brain has nothing to fear from electronic competition. It is an organ housed in a body, kindled by the appetites and affections of the flesh; it operates friskily, risking vast generalities that it clinches with neat, nimble aphorisms . . . Performed by him, such verbal flourishes are both witty and wise. Gopnik is a sleek stylist, and a high-minded, big-hearted moralist into the bargain.
Peter Conrad, Observer
Self-deprecation, his honesty, his humour, his amiable, relaxed acknowledgement of his own foibles. In short, he's enormously likeable . . . A real treat . . . A piece of real insight, perfectly put . . . Heartening proof of a life lived fully, and fully savoured
Times Literary Supplement
Gopnik's sentences build into paragraphs that are architectural feats . . . He is investigative again, tracing this psychic image of his own time, his own New York