Michiko Kakutani

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Not to be confused with Michio Kaku.
Michiko Kakutani
Born (1955-01-09) January 9, 1955 (age 60)
New Haven, Connecticut
Education Yale University
Occupation Critic, writer
Parent(s) Shizuo Kakutani

Michiko "Michi" Kakutani (角谷 美智子 Kakutani Michiko?, born January 9, 1955) is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning critic for The New York Times.


Early life[edit]

Kakutani, a Japanese American, was born on January 9, 1955 in New Haven, Connecticut. She is the only child of Yale mathematician Shizuo Kakutani. She received her B.A. in English literature from Yale University in 1976, where she studied under author and Yale writing professor John Hersey, among others.[1]


She initially worked as a reporter for the Washington Post, and then from 1977 to 1979 for Time magazine, where Hersey had worked. In 1979, she joined The New York Times as a reporter.[1]

Kakutani has been a literary critic for The New York Times since 1983.[1] Her periodically harsh reviews of some prominent authors have garnered both attention and, on occasion, criticism. She has been known to write reviews in the voice of movie or book characters, including Brian Griffin,[2] Austin Powers,[3] Holden Caulfield,[4] Elle Woods of Legally Blonde,[5] and Truman Capote's character Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's.[6]


Writer Salman Rushdie has called her "a weird woman who seems to feel the need to alternately praise and spank".[7] In a June 2005 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, author Norman Mailer criticized Kakutani as a "one-woman kamikaze" who "disdains white male authors" and deliberately "bring[s] out your review two weeks in advance of publication. She trashes it just to hurt sales and embarrass the author." Mailer also said that The New York Times editors were "terrified" of Kakutani, and "can't fire her" because she's "a token", "an Asiatic, a feminist".[8] Writer Jonathan Franzen has called her "the stupidest person in New York"[9] and an "international embarrassment",[10] despite her praise for Franzen's recent novel, Purity (Kakutani is actually mentioned within the novel, on p. 191).[11][12]

On July 19, 2007, The New York Times published a pre-release story written by Kakutani about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. An account of the ensuing controversy, including the critical comments of some Harry Potter fans, can be found on the Times Public Editor's blog.[13]

Kakutani was parodied in the essay "I Am Michiko Kakutani" by one of her former Yale classmates, Colin McEnroe.[14]

Media references[edit]

  • She was referred to in an episode of the show Sex and the City titled Critical Condition, in which Carrie Bradshaw releases a book that Kakutani reviews. In the episode, various characters deem her name "too hard to pronounce", with character Miranda Hobbes memorably dismissing her when Carrie has an apprehension about her review, stating, "Just don't say her name again; it will drive me over the edge."[15]
  • A fictionalized account of her life entitled, "Michiko Kakutani and the Sadness of the World!" was published in the online and print magazine Essays & Fictions.[16]
  • She is mentioned in episode 4 of season 2 of the 1999 sitcom It's Like, You Know..., "Coast to Coast".
  • She is also mentioned on an episode of HBO's "Girls" on season 3 titled "Only Child".
  • In Season 1 Episode 10 of The Affair, a publisher who wants to print Noah Solloway's second novel tells him that "Michi Kakutani will flip for this [book], and she hates everything."
  • She is mentioned in "The Silkworm" by Robert Galbraith, (JK Rowling).

She was also mentioned in the 4th(and last season) of The OC



  1. ^ a b c d "Criticism — Biography". Pulitzer Prizes. 1998. Archived from the original on 2007-07-04. Retrieved 2007-07-09. .
  2. ^ Kakutani, Michiko (2010-12-06). "Marilyn, Dostoyevsky and Me, Her Pup". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-06. 
  3. ^ Kakutani, Michiko (2002-07-23). "Hipoisie and Chic-oisie And London Had the Mojo". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  4. ^ Kakutani, Michiko (2005-08-23). "Who's Afraid of Holden Caulfield?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  5. ^ Kakutani, Michiko (2005-06-19). "Digging For Gold In Stilettos And Silk". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  6. ^ Kakutani, Michiko (2005-10-24). "Tru, Dear, There's Only One Holly. Moi.". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  7. ^ Marcus, James. "Rock of Ages". Retrieved 2007-07-08. 
  8. ^ Brinkley, Douglas (30 June – 14 July 2005). "Norman Mailer: The Last Buccaneer Looks Back". Rolling Stone. 977/978: 84–85, 88, 90, 92, 94–95, 162, 166. 
  9. ^ Yabroff, Jennie (2010-08-26), "The Man We Knew Too Much", Newsweek, retrieved August 26, 2010 
  10. ^ Krasny, Michael (2010-09-13), Interview, KQED Radio .
  11. ^ Kakutani, Michiko (2001-09-04), "Books Of the Times; A Family Portrait as Metaphor For the 90s", The New York Times, retrieved August 28, 2014 
  12. ^ Kakutani, Michiko (2010-08-15), "A Family Full of Unhappiness, Hoping for Transcendence", The New York Times, retrieved August 28, 2014 
  13. ^ Hoyt, Clark (2007-07-19). "Did The Times Betray Harry Potter Fans?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  14. ^ McEnroe, Colin (January 1999). "I Am Michiko Kakutani". McSweeney's. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  15. ^ Waters, Juliet (2005-10-13). "Candace Bushnell moves from chick lit to fem lit with Lipstick Jungle". Montreal Mirror. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  16. ^ Michaels, Joseph, "Michiko Kakutani and the Sadness of the World!", Essays and Fictions 8 .

External links[edit]