Ann Birstein

What I Saw at the Fair

Ann Birstein grew up in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, where her father, Bernard Birstein, was the rabbi of the famed “Actors Temple,” the synagogue that counted Milton Berle and Jack Benny among its members. After the release of her first novel, Star of Glass, Ann Birstein’s editor introduced her to Alfred Kazin, already an esteemed man of letters, twice divorced and a dozen years her senior. On Alfred’s arm, Ann found herself thrust into the height of New York’s literary and intellectual circles, with giants such as Saul Bellow and Ralph Ellison as their most intimate friends.

What I Saw at the Fair is a candid account of Birstein’s long, tumultuous marriage with Kazin and of the evolution—and death—of a vibrant generation of intellectuals. Most important, it is the tender, laugh-out-loud story of what she saw as a woman in search of her own life, home, and identity.

"A delicious, readable memoir about the fortunes of a beautiful, intelligent woman in an era when beautiful, intelligent women had no rights." - Erica Jong

Selected Works

Nonfiction
Fiction
It's the mid-1970's, a time of political and social turmoil. Watergate is on everybody's mind, and the women's movement is the subject of much contention.
"Ann Birstein writes with such fluidity that her novel seems to end only moments after it has begun." --New York Times
Autobiography
"A delicious, readable memoir about the fortunes of a beautiful, intelligent woman in an era when beautiful, intelligent women had no rights." --Erica Jong
Biography
"A delightful biography of the author's father." --The New Yorker