The best obscure Michiko Kakutani references in pop culture
After striking fear into the hearts of authors since 1983, it was announced Thursday that New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani will be stepping down from the position. The world-renowned literary voice has inspired the careers of legends like George Saunders and David Foster Wallace, as well as several high-brow jokes. To honor her tenure and impact, we’ve rounded up the best and most obscure pop culture references about the writer.
The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith
J.K. Rowling mentions Kakutani in The Silkworm, the 2014 detective novel which she wrote under the pen name Robert Galbraith. One character bemoans the advent of Internet trolls becoming wannabe critics. “With the invention of the Internet, any subliterate cretin can be Michiko Kakutani.”
Sex and the City
Kakutani is also invoked in season 5 of Sex and the City. In “Critical Condition,” Carrie is terrified because her book is being reviewed by Kakutani, and she keeps bringing it up, leading to several jokes about the critic’s name. “She’s the Times book critic,” Carrie tells her friend. “Oh, I thought you were suggesting an appetizer,” he responds. Miranda is also frustrated by Carrie’s obsession. “Just don’t say her name again — it will drive me over the edge.”
In the season 3 episode “Only Child,” Hannah and Adam are attending the funeral of her deceased publisher, and she says they can’t leave the wake until she “locks eyes with Michiko Kakutani.” It’s funny because Kakutani reviewed Girls creator and star Lena Dunham’s memoir Not That Kind of Girl a few months after the episode aired, praising the book for its self-awareness and wit.
In episode 10 of the first season of the Showtime drama, a publisher who wants to sell Noah’s book, raves, “Michi Kakutani will flip for this, and she hates everything.”
In episode 10 of the final season of The O.C., Taylor Townsend discovers her French exes new book is based on their relationship. “Michiko Kakutani called it a sexual epic, which I think is a real stretch,” she frantically explains to her current boyfriend, Ryan.
Purity, Jonathan Franzen
In one subplot of the novel, they reference a character’s recently released book as being panned in a review by Kakutani. “Bloated and immensely disagreeable,” is the dismissal attributed to Kakutani in Purity. The meta move, however, isn’t mentioned in Kakutani’s review of the book, which she praised.
The critic is mentioned in the second episode of the Sutton Foster-led TV Land comedy, which takes place at a publishing company. Liza asks if a good review by Kakutani could help save a Joyce Carol Oates book crisis. “The only way a good review by Michiko Kakutani could sell books is if her twerking ass caught fire.”