Poets & Writers

Reviewers & Critics

PARUL Sehgal is a senior editor and columnist at the New York Times Book Review. Previously she was books editor at NPR and a senior editor at Publishers Weekly. She grew up in Washington, D.C., Delhi, Manila, Budapest, and Montreal, where she studied political science at McGill University, and moved to New York City in 2005 to study fiction in the MFA program at Columbia University. In 2010 she was awarded the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle. Her TED talk on literature, titled “An Ode to Envy,” has been viewed more than two million times since it was posted in the summer of 2013.

What was your path to becoming a literary critic?

Random and inevitable. I’ve written a bit about how books were a highly controlled substance in my childhood home. My mother had a marvelous, idiosyncratic or Gore Vidal’s —stuffed in the waistband of my pants. Reading was an illicit, compulsive, and very private activity for me; discovering criticism—in the —opened up a whole world. I suddenly had interlocutors. It was thrilling.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

Related Interests

More from Poets & Writers

Poets & Writers5 min read
This Is Not a Manifesto
SEVERAL years ago the poet and publisher Matvei Yankelevich and I offered a conference panel audience the spectacle of an actual disagreement. Not a fierce one but a firm one. We hugged afterward, to make clear that it was partly for show, but it rem
Poets & Writers3 min read
Valencia Robin
Age: Over fifty. Residence: Charlottesville, Virginia. Book: Ridiculous Light (Persea Books, April 2019), winner of the 2018 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize in Poetry, a collection that spans the arc of a life, from the poet’s childhood in Milwaukee
Poets & Writers3 min read
The Second Shelf
The exterior of the Second Shelf bookstore in London resembles a K2 kiosk, the iconic red telephone booth that dots the city’s streets. The shop, which stocks modern first editions, manuscripts, and other rare and rediscovered books by women, is all