Binnie Kirshenbaum

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Binnie Kirshenbaum is an American novelist and short story writer. She is a professor of the Writing Program at Columbia University School of the Arts.


Born in 1964, Kirshenbaum received a BA from Columbia University and an MFA from Brooklyn College. She has been a professor of Fiction Writing at Columbia University School of the Arts since 2003.[1]


Kirshenbaum published her first book of ten short stories, Married Life and Other True Adventures, in 1990.[2] In 1992, Kirshenbaum published her first novel, On Mermaid Avenue, named for the address of Coney Island's Cyclone rollercoaster. The Boston Globe said it was "A nifty variation on the loss-of-innocence theme....sure-handed, a bright, comic trinket."[3]

Her third book, A Disturbance in One Place was published in 1994. Norman Mailer said about it that, "not many young female novelists can deal with sex, the appetite for it, and the loss of such appetite with as much candor, lack of self-protection, and humor as Binnie Kirshenbaum", and the work was selected as a Barnes and Noble Discover New Authors book and for a Critics Choice Award.[4]

In 1995, Kirshenbaum published her fourth book, a collection of short stories called History on a Personal Note.[5] It was followed in 2000 by a novel called Pure Poetry.[6]

Hester Among the Ruins (2002) was Kirshenbaum's fourth novel. It was recognized as a Chicago Tribune Favorite Book of the Year and was a nominee for the American Jewish Book Award.[citation needed] An Almost Perfect Moment was Kirshenbaum's fifth novel.[7] Kirshenbaum's The Scenic Route was published in 2009.[8]

Rabbits for Food, Kirshenbaum's seventh novel, was chosen as one of NPR's Favorite Books of the Year,[9] and as a New York Times Editor's Choice[10] and Notable Book of 2019.[11] Nancy Pearl, book reviewer for NPR, chose it as the best work of fiction of 2019 and one of the thirteen best fiction books of the decade.[12] Caroline Leavitt, reviewing the novel in The Boston Globe, wrote, "The book achieves absolute genius."[13] and Deborah Eisenberg wrote, "Brilliant insight and gleaming prose light up this report from the darkest interior."[14]

Richard Howard wrote of her, "This author is indeed a humorist, even a comedian, a sort of stand-up tragic."[15] In its review of A Disturbance In One Place, the San Francisco Chronicle said, "Kirshenbaum refuses to corral what is funny or sad into separate camps, but allows one to flip over into the other, creating unexpectedly poignant effects."[citation needed]

Critical reception[edit]

Kirshenbaum's novels have been chosen as Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, NPR, Time, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Washington Post.[citation needed] She has twice won Critics Choice Awards, and she was selected by Granta as one of the Best Young American novelists.[citation needed] She has published short fiction and essays in many magazines and anthologies and her work has been widely translated.[1]

According to Richard Eder of The New York Times, "Ms. Kirshenbaum's comedy has fizz and bite. She handles interrogation, passionate love, her ... characters and what they seem to represent with disconcerting sleight of hand."[16]



  • On Mermaid Avenue (1992) ISBN 978-0880641562*
  • A Disturbance in One Place (1994) ISBN 978-0-06-052088-5
  • Pure Poetry (2000) ISBN 978-0-684-86471-6
  • Hester Among the Ruins (2002) ISBN 978-0-393-04152-1
  • An Almost Perfect Moment (2004) ISBN 978-0-393-04152-1
  • The Scenic Route (2009) ISBN 978-0-06-078474-4
  • Rabbits for Food (2019) ISBN 9781641290531

Story collections[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Binnie Kirshenbaum". Archived from the original on January 26, 2012.
  2. ^ Kirshenbaum, Binnie (January 1, 1990). Married life and other true adventures: Stories. ISBN 0895943972.
  3. ^ Kirshenbaum, Binnie (April 1, 1994). On Mermaid Avenue. ISBN 0880641568.
  4. ^ "A Disturbance in One Place: A Novel by Binnie Kirshenbaum". Archived from the original on September 9, 2012. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  5. ^ "History on a Personal Note: Stories by Binnie Kirshenbaum". Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  6. ^ Howard, Richard (May 28, 2000). "The Pleasure Principle". Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ Kirshenbaum, Binnie (February 15, 2005). "Almost Perfect Moment, An" – via Amazon.
  8. ^ Doten, Mark (May 2009). "An interview with Binnie Kirshenbaum". Archived from the original on June 30, 2012.
  9. ^ "NPR's Favorite Books Of 2019: The Book Concierge Is Back With 350+ Great Reads". WAMU 88.5. American University Radio. December 3, 2019.
  10. ^ "8 New Books We Recommend This Week". The New York Times. May 23, 2019 – via
  11. ^ "100 Notable Books of 2019". November 25, 2019 – via
  12. ^ Gyimah-Brempong, Adwoa; Sillman, Marcie (December 31, 2019). "Nancy Pearl's best books of the 2010s".
  13. ^ Leavitt, Caroline. "Having a little fun in the heart of darkness".
  14. ^ "Rabbits for Food". Soho Press.
  15. ^ Howard, Richard (May 28, 2000). "The Pleasure Principle". Los Angeles Times.
  16. ^ Eder, Richard (February 8, 2002). "BOOKS OF THE TIMES; Author Develops a Passion for Her Subject". The New York Times – via

External links[edit]

Interviews of Kirshenbaum
Online essays
Online fiction