Michiko Kakutani

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Michiko Kakutani
Born (1955-01-09) January 9, 1955 (age 62)
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
Other names Michi
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 literary critic and former chief book 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 and his wife. While her father was born in Japan, her mother was a second-generation Japanese-American. 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]

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.[7]

Kakutani was parodied in the essay "I Am Michiko Kakutani" by one of her former Yale classmates, Colin McEnroe.[8]

Kakutani announced that she was stepping down as chief book critic of the Times on July 27, 2017.[9]

Kakutani is a fan of the New York Yankees.[10][11]

Media references[edit]

  • A fictionalized account of Kakutani's life entitled "Michiko Kakutani and the Sadness of the World!" was published in the online and print magazine Essays & Fictions.[12]
  • She is mentioned in The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. J. K. Rowling).
  • She is referenced in an episode of the HBO series Sex and the City. In "Critical Condition" (season 5, episode 6), Carrie Bradshaw releases a book that Kakutani reviews. Various characters deem the critic's name "too hard to pronounce," including Miranda Hobbes, who memorably states, "Just don't say her name again — it will drive me over the edge."[13]
  • Kakutani is mentioned in an episode of the short-lived ABC sitcom It's Like, You Know... (season 2, episode 4).
  • She is mentioned in an episode of HBO's Girls (season 3, episode 5).
  • In The Affair, a publisher who wants to print Noah Solloway's second novel tells him that "Michi Kakutani will flip for this, and she hates everything" (season 1, episode 10).
  • She is mentioned by Jimmy from the FXX show You're the Worst who says "If you look past Michiko Kakutani's thinly veiled ethnocentrism and scorching ephebiphobia..." when discussing the response to his novel. ("Crevasses": season 2, episode 2)
  • She is mentioned in the fourth and final season of The O.C.
  • She is mentioned in the novel Purity by Jonathan Franzen as the author of a damning review of a newly-released novel.



  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. ^ Hoyt, Clark (2007-07-19). "Did The Times Betray Harry Potter Fans?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  8. ^ McEnroe, Colin (January 1999). "I Am Michiko Kakutani". McSweeney's. Retrieved 2016-03-05. 
  9. ^ "Michiko Kakutani Is Retiring", Press Run, NYT, July 27, 2017.
  10. ^ Kakutani, Michiko. "In a Fan's Eyes, the World Turns Upside Down". New York Times. Retrieved 19 November 2016. 
  11. ^ Kakutani, Michiko. "Insider’s View of What Went Wrong in the Bronx". New York Times. Retrieved 19 November 2016. 
  12. ^ Michaels, Joseph, "Michiko Kakutani and the Sadness of the World!", Essays and Fictions, 8 .
  13. ^ Waters, Juliet (2005-10-13). "Candace Bushnell moves from chick lit to fem lit with Lipstick Jungle". Montreal Mirror. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 

External links[edit]