Jay Caspian Kang

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Jay Caspian Kang
BornSeoul, South Korea
Alma materBowdoin College, Columbia University
OccupationWriter, editor
EmployerVice, The New York Times
Notable workThe Dead Do Not Improve

Jay Caspian Kang is an American writer and editor. He is a correspondent on Vice News Tonight and a writer-at-large at the New York Times Magazine. Previously he was an editor of Grantland, then of the science and technology blog Elements at The New Yorker. His debut novel The Dead Do Not Improve was released by the Hogarth/Random House in the summer of 2012.[1]

Early life[edit]

Kang was born in Seoul, South Korea on New Year's Eve.[2] He grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He received his undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College[3] and received his Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) degree from Columbia University in 2005.[2]


After receiving his MFA, Kang spent a number of years in San Francisco and Los Angeles teaching creative writing and world history.[2] He claims to have spent more than 40 hours a week playing poker at the Commerce Casino during this time.[2] In January 2010, Kang began writing for literary basketball blog FreeDarko. In his first contribution to the blog, "The Lives of Others," Kang wrote an analysis of how Chinese-American basketball player Jeremy Lin and Chinese-American rapper MC Jin "offered an alternative interpretation of what it meant to be an Asian-American."[2] He asserted that Asian-Americans "have been conditioned our entire lives to imagine White," and that "Like Jin before him, what Jeremy Lin represents is a re-conception of our bodies, a visible measure of how the emasculated Asian-American body might measure up to the mythic legion of Big Black supermen."[4] Kang has continued to write about race throughout his career, with "A significant majority of Kang's columns, television segments, and magazine features hav[ing] a central focus on the role of race in culture."[2]

Kang was subsequently noticed in 2010 by several prominent editors[2][5][6][7] for his work, "The High is Always the Pain and the Pain is Always the High," a lengthy first-person essay concerning his gambling addiction. The work has been seen as a turning point Kang's career.[2]

Kang's debut novel The Dead Do Not Improve was released in 2012 by Hogarth/Random House.[8] The book was summarized by Kirkus Book Reviews as a "Pynchon-esque menagerie of California surfers, cops, thugs and dot-com workers [that] converge in a comic anti-noir."[9] The book revolves around a disgruntled MFA graduate named Philip Kim, who discovers that his elderly neighbor has been murdered, and who soon becomes the unlikely protagonist of a quickly unfolding mystery involving a struggle between fictionalized versions of two San Francisco institutions: Cafe Gratitude and Kink.com.[1] Kang has said that he wanted to write the book about Korean American male anger and reflect on how the Virginia Tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, was also Korean.[10]

Kang joined Vice in June 2016[11] as civil rights correspondent,[12] appearing on HBO's "Vice News Tonight".[13] He is also a writer-at-large for The New York Times Magazine.[13] Previously he was a founding editor of the ESPN sports and pop-culture blog Grantland,[14] and then served as editor of the science and technology blog Elements at The New Yorker from April to November 2014.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Kang is a thyroid cancer survivor.[2] He has remarked that "Surviving cancer can cleanse the soul, sure, but once you're left facing the rest of your life, a patient's vision can tunnel down to a list of demands."[16]

Kang is married and currently lives in New York.[17][18][2] He has a daughter who was born in January 2017.[2]


  1. ^ a b Huffington Post, The Book We're Talking About: 'The Dead Do Not Improve' By Jay Caspian Kang, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/06/dead-do-not-improve_n_1747545.html
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ho, Karen K. "The angry, witty, adventurous life of Jay Caspian Kang". Columbia Journalism Review.
  3. ^ Y. Peter Kang, August Issue: Jay Caspian Kang Explores Korean American Male Anger in New Novel, KoreAm Journal, http://kore.am/jay-caspian-kang-explores-korean-american-male-anger-in-new-novel/
  4. ^ Kang, Jay. "The Lives of Others". FreeDarko.com. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
  5. ^ Sternbergh, Adam. "The Poker Writing of Jay Caspian Kang". The 6th Floor. New York Times Company. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
  6. ^ Pitzer, Andrea. "Losing in Vegas: Jay Caspian Kang's "literary moment"". Nieman Storyboard. The President and Fellows of Harvard College. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
  7. ^ Pappademas, Alex. "Alex Pappademas: My Top 5 Longreads of 2010". Retrieved March 10, 2018.
  8. ^ Grantland, First Serial: The Dead Do Not Improve, http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/8219991/exclusive-excerpt-grantland-editor-jay-caspian-kang-new-book-dead-do-not-improve
  9. ^ Kirkus Review of Jay Caspian Kang's The Dead No Not Improve, https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/jay-caspian-kang/dead-do-not-improve/
  10. ^ Y, Peter Kang, August Issue: Jay Caspian Kang Explores Korean American Male Anger in New Novel, KoreAm Journal, http://iamkoream.com/august-issue-jay-caspian-kang-explores-korean-american-male-anger-in-new-novel/
  11. ^ O'Shea, Chris (June 15, 2016). "Vice Adds a Dozen". FishbowlNY. AdWeek. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  12. ^ "Jay Caspian Kang joins Vice as civil rights correspondent". alldigitocracy.org. June 20, 2016. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  13. ^ a b Prince, Richard (December 13, 2016). "Telling Our Truth in the Age of Trump". The Root. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  14. ^ Sterne, Peter (November 13, 2014). "Jay Caspian Kang leaving The New Yorker for N.Y. Times Magazine". POLITICO Media. Retrieved 2017-05-30.
  15. ^ "Jay Caspian Kang Named Editor of The New Yorker's Elements – Cision". Cision. April 30, 2014. Retrieved 2017-05-30.
  16. ^ Kang, Jay. "Super Bowl Araby". Grantland. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
  17. ^ The Huffington Post, The Book We're Talking About: 'The Dead No Not Improve' By Jay Caspian Kang, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/06/dead-do-not-improve_n_1747545.html
  18. ^ Angry Asian Man, Angry Reader of the Week: Jay Caspian Kang, http://blog.angryasianman.com/2012/08/angry-reader-of-week-jay-caspian-kang.html

External links[edit]