Parul Sehgal is a book critic at The New York Times. She was previously a columnist and senior editor at The New York Times Book Review. Her work has appeared in the Atlantic, Slate, Bookforum, The New Yorker, Tin House, and The Literary Review, among other publications, and she was awarded the Nona Balakian Award from the National Book Critics Circle for her criticism. She has been aContinue reading

Recent work

Select reviews: On Chekhov, semicolons, Sarah Schulman, Hilary Mantel, Martin Amis, Kierkegaard, Salman Rushdie, Naomi Wolf, Susan Sontag, Phillip Roth, Yiyun Li, Charles Murray, Audre Lorde, Lorraine Hansberry, Tove Ditlevsen, Lauren Oyler, Raven Leilani, the history of the New York Times Book Review, Marguerite Duras, Richard Avedon, Fleabag, Wayne Koestenbaum, George Saunders, Natalia Ginzburg, ColsonContinue reading “Recent work”

Arundhati Roy’s Fascinating Mess

By Parul Sehgal, the Atlantic, July/August 2017 To so confidently believe oneself to be on the right side of history is risky—for a writer especially. In that balmy glow of self-regard, complacency can easily take root. And good prose demands a measure of self-doubt—the worry that nags at a writer, that forces her to doubleContinue reading “Arundhati Roy’s Fascinating Mess”

Is Cultural Appropriation Always Wrong?

By Parul Sehgal, The New York Times Magazine, Sept. 25, 2015 IT’S A TRUTH only selectively acknowledged that all cultures are mongrel. One of the first Indian words to be brought into English was the Hindi ‘‘loot’’ — ‘‘plunder.’’ Some of the Ku Klux Klan’s 19th-century costumes were, of all things, inspired in part by theContinue reading “Is Cultural Appropriation Always Wrong?”

On ‘Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty’

By Parul Sehgal, The New York Times Book Review, June 25, 2015 Francis Bacon said he wanted “to paint the scream more than the horror.” Marilyn Minter’s multivalent mouths manage to be both the scream and the horror, the laughter and the joke. “I’ve always been interested in things that drip, things that sweat, wetContinue reading “On ‘Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty’”

Mothers of Invention

By Parul Sehgal, Bookforum JUNE/JULY/AUG 2015 Since its beginnings, family has carried this strain of being bonded—and not just in body but in imagination. “In landlessness alone resides the highest truth, shoreless, indefinite as God,” says Ishmael, setting sail in Moby-Dick. On shore, we are to understand, our minds remain manacled, too absorbed with the hearthContinue reading “Mothers of Invention”

On ‘Flawless’ as Feminist Declaration

By Parul Sehgal, The New York Times Magazine, March 24, 2015 Something interesting happens when a word that suggests action is applied to beauty: It recasts beauty as something that can be done, pulled off — not just possessed. On Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter, when “flawless” is used as praise, it implies a friendly interestContinue reading “On ‘Flawless’ as Feminist Declaration”