Michiko Kakutani


It is the end of an era for literary criticism. The New York Times revealed that book critic Michiko Kakutani will retire after 38 years at the newspaper.

“As many of you now know, Michiko Kakutani has decided to retire after 38 years at The Times — much of it as chief book critic for an institution that cares about books the way it cares about wars and politics. She has read — or read between the lines of — hundreds of books with rigor and tenderness, and extraordinarily high standards,” executive editor Dean Baquet wrote in an e-mail to staff.

Kakutani, who won a Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 1998, started reporting on cultural news for the Times in 1979 and became a book critic four years later. Over nearly four decades, she has developed a reputation that extends beyond the literary world.

“I will miss her coming to my office bearing galleys. It should not be a surprise that her final review was a gift for a debut writer — check it out. It is classic Michi — wise, startling, beautifully written and generous. She has been one of our signature writers. It is hard to imagine the story of the modern New York Times without a hefty chapter bearing her name,” Baquet concluded.

The news of Kakutani’s departure comes as the newsroom faces buyouts and restructuring — and the same day that the company reported a better than expected second quarter. Parul Sehgal, who has been a senior editor and columnist at The New York Times Book Review since 2012, will join The Times’ team of daily book critics.

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