Parul Sehgal is a book critic at The New York Times. She came to The Times in 2012. Her writing has also appeared in The Atlantic, Bookforum, The New Yorker and Slate, among other publications. In 2010 she was awarded the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle, and her TED talk on literature and envy has been viewed more than two million times. Her nonfiction interests range from science and technology to philosophy and religion.
Parul grew up in Virginia, New Delhi, Manila, Montreal and Budapest. She studied at McGill University and received an MFA from Columbia University, where she has taught writing workshops and a master class on criticism. In an interview with Poets and Writers, she described her early life as a reader: “My mother had a marvelous, idiosyncratic library — lots of André Gide, Jean Genet, and Oscar Wilde, lots of philosophy, and lots of Jackie Collins. But she was terribly strict, and the library was off-limits to us. Naturally my sister and I became the most frantic little book thieves; I must have spent the first decade of my life with a novel — and usually something massively inappropriate like Judy Blume’s Wifey or Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckinridge — stuffed in the waistband of my pants.” Of criticism, she says simply, “I just got addicted to the form, its constraints and possibilities.”
Cosponsored by the Department of English and the Lewis Center for the Arts.