is the author of six novels and one short story collection. She has twice won the Critic's Choice Award and the Discovery Award. She was one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists and one of Paper magazine's Beautiful People. Her books have been selected as Favorite Books of the Year by The Chicago Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle, Newsweek Magazine, Vogue and National Public Radio. Her work has been translated into seven languages. She is a professor and Fiction Director at Columbia University Graduate School of the Arts.
Praise for Binnie Kirshenbaum
"Not many young female novelists can deal with sex, the appetite for it, and the loss of such appetite, with such candor, lack of self-protection, and humor as Binnie Kirshenbaum."
"Just when you think it is safe to laugh, she turns the tables on you. The funnier her books get, the more poignant they are."
"This author (Kirshenbaum) is indeed a humorist, even a comedian, a sort of stand-up tragic."
"For years, Binnie Kirshenbaum has quietly been one of the funniest and smartest writers we have in the U.S. . . . her books have razor sharp teeth and surprising depths."
". . . . a novelist who gracefully defies classification"
"Binnie Kirshenbaum is a rare and remarkable writer."
". . . the younger sister of Philip Roth. . . ."
"A tremendous talent. Her novels are sexy, intelligent, complex, and provocative; they press against your heart the way old lovers do."
". . . Kirshenbaum, the prolific writer of novels and stories written with wit and serious moral concern . . . is a presence to be reckoned with. One of her charms is that vestigial ladylike manner of a young woman who deports herself properly, aims for grace. . . . (A) novelist of enormous cultural reach. . . . the voice of a writer, known, or on the endless journey to knowing herself."
Imitation, Influence. . .Coincidence. A literary photographic exhibition, at the Boston Public Library
Binnie Kirshenbaum’s mother was a teacher who said, “You wanna write? Be a teacher, too, and you can have the summer to do your writing or whatever it is…You can’t be a waitress for the rest of your life.” Binnie Kirshenbaum said: “I would rather be a waitress for the rest of my life than spend a single day as a teacher.”
Waitressing left a great deal of brain space to focus on stories, which she would set down in a thin vinyl notebook by night. A few years later these little notebooks were published into a collection of short stories.
Now she was a published writer and a waitress. When she published her first novel, she hung up her waitress apron and got married to someone who had a job with health insurance.
In 1998, after publishing her second novel, she was invited to teach a workshop in the MFA program at Columbia University. Teach? No. She was never going to be a teacher; it was practically a credo. But to teach a fiction workshop at Columbia was tempting, very tempting. She agonized. Her husband wisely said, “Say yes. If you hate it, you can quit.” In 2002, she became a Professor of Professional Practice and was then promoted to full professor. She didn’t hate it.
In 2018, she was awarded the Columbia University Presidential Teaching Award.