A classic portrait of immigrant life in the early decades of the twentieth century, A Walker in the City is a tour of tenements, subways, and synagogues—but also a universal story of the desires and fears we experience as we try to leave our small, familiar neighborhoods for something new.
With vivid imagery and sensual detail—the smell of half-sour pickles, the dry rattle of newspapers, the women in their shapeless flowered housedresses—Alfred Kazin recounts his boyhood walks through this working-class community, and his eventual foray across the river to “the city,” the mysterious, compelling Manhattan, where treasures like the New York Public Library and the Metropolitan Museum beckoned. Eventually, he would travel even farther, building a life around books and language and literature and exploring all that the world had to offer.
“The whole texture, color, and sound of life in this tenement realm . . . is revealed as tapestried, as dazzling, as full of lush and varied richness as an Arabian bazaar.” —The New York Times