He graduated from Harvard University with a BA, and from University of California, Santa Cruz with a Ph.D. He teaches at Tufts University. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with his wife, Melinda Marble, and their daughter, Grace.
- The Death of Che Guevara, Knopf, 1983, ISBN 978-0-394-51767-4
- Krazy Kat: a novel in five panels, Knopf, 1988, ISBN 978-0-394-55025-1
- Great Neck: a novel, Knopf, 2003, ISBN 978-0-375-41394-0
- Forgiving the Angel: Four Stories for Franz Kafka, Knopf, 2014, ISBN 978-0385350341
- The Space Between: Literature and Politics, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982, ISBN 978-0-8018-2672-6
- On Giving Birth to One’s Own Mother. Knopf, 1991, ISBN 978-0-394-58752-3
To call Jay Cantor the thinking man's Tom Wolfe is a little unfair to Tom Wolfe, who surely believes, and with some justification, that he's the thinking man's Tom Wolfe. It's also a little unfair to Jay Cantor, who for all I know abhors Wolfe's politics and his fiction as well. Yet the scope of Cantor's ambition in his teeming new novel, Great Neck; his avid desire to capture the American scene entire; his crowd of characters, each absorbed in a private drama; certain thrillingly compact episodes that stand out like a prodigy among dull schoolkids; the hankering after abandoned tradition (Cantor is fascinated by the cabala, Wolfe by the Stoics); the stern morality operating just below the surface of the narrative -- all these things, it seems to me, link these two writers, both of whom ardently believe in the power of fiction to bring an American moment to life.
- George Herriman's. "Jay Cantor Biography - (1948– ), The Death of Che Guevara, Krazy Kat, The Space Between: Literature and Politics - University, Literature, and Essays - JRank Articles". Jrank.org. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
- "Tufts University: English Department". Ase.tufts.edu. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
- "Jay Cantor Author Bookshelf - Random House - Books - Audiobooks - Ebooks". Random House. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
- Cantor, Jay. "Jay Cantor | Writer Profile | The Harvard Crimson". Thecrimson.com. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
-  Archived April 16, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- Cantor, Jay (2004-08-10). "Random House, Inc. Academic Resources | Great Neck by Jay Cantor". Randomhouse.com. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
- "To Know Which Way the Wind Blows", The New York Times, Adam Begley, February 2, 2003