Don’t mess with Michiko Kakutani

From The Guardian:

Mailerbrennan276 Rather than blunting her criticism, these counterattacks have made Kakutani one of the world’s most influential book reviewers. In her early 50s, she has worked at the New York Times since 1979, and despite being described as “reclusive” — avoiding literary parties and interviews — her prominence is such that she once featured as a plot device in an episode of Sex and the City. Little is known about her other than that she is a Yale graduate, her father was a mathematician, she likes the New York Yankees and may well be friends with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.

What’s significant is the criticism. In 1998, Kakutani was awarded a Pulitzer for her “fearless and authoritative” journalism, and her work has been described as “destination programming”, meaning that it’s required reading for literary types. Of all the authors who have bitten back, the most offensive was the late Norman Mailer, who described Kakutani as “a one-woman kamikaze” in 2005, and said he didn’t know what had “put the hair up her immortal Japanese ass” and that the only reason the Times didn’t fire her was because she was “a twofer”, being “Asiatic” and “feminist”.

Why Mailer thought the Times would want to fire someone with the guts to describe one of his books as “silly, self-important and at times inadvertently comical” is beyond me. Other authors take note. Attack Kakutani, and only one person ends up looking stupid.

More here.