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About me

I'm Thu. I'm a culture critic at The Japan Times, based in Tokyo. I write about art, books, and occasionally TV. I've written about adults coloring and women defending themselves. Also circles, commas, and the letter "g." My work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Quartz, Wired, Slate, Catapult, The Believer, and ArtReview, among others.

In 2022, I'm writing a literary letter from Tokyo called the weekly grief​.

Previously I was the books reporter for Quartz and context editor at TED. I also cofounded TEDxNewYork and was the executive producer of its first two flagship events. My debut novel, Hail Caesar, was published in 2007 by Scholastic/PUSH and was named an NYPL Book for the Teen Age.

I'm the grateful recipient of a 2021 Blakemore Freeman Fellowship for the study of advanced Japanese. Previously I was an Atlantic Media fellow and a Fulbright grantee in Turkey.

Here's a selection of my writing.


Essays and criticism


The Incendiaries, by R.O. Kwon (The New York Times Book Review)

Heaven, by Mieko Kawakami (The Washington Post)

The Fifth Risk, by Michael Lewis (Quartz)


The Death of Truth, by Michiko Kakutani (Quartz)

Barracoon, by Zora Neale Hurston (Quartz)



Walter De Maria’s "The Lightning Field" (The Believer)

Christian Marclay's "Found in Odawara" (ArtReview)

Ai Weiwei/Herzog and de Mueron's "Hansel & Gretel" (Quartz)

teamLab's "art with rinkan sauna" (ArtReview Asia)

Naoshima and Teshima art islands (TED Ideas)


HBO's My Brilliant Friend (Quartz)

Netflix/Sanrio's Aggretsuko (Quartz)​

Netflix's BoJack Horseman (Slate)


Forty-one years ago, the US took a big gamble on Vietnamese refugees (Quartz)

Traveling with my parents taught me growing up is not growing old (Catapult)

The case for taking forever to finish reading books (Quartz)


Stories appear on Quartz unless otherwise noted.

Sayaka Murata inhabits a planet of her own (Wired)

Bolivia’s most Instagrammable houses showcase indigenous peoples’ reclaimed power

We can chip away at rape culture by teaching girls emotional self-defense

A keeper of seeds hopes to save the world from starvation (TED Ideas)

On language

What's not in a name? (The Believer)

How do you draw a circle? We analyzed 100,000 drawings to show how culture shapes our instincts

A court’s decision in a Maine labor dispute hinged on the absence of an Oxford comma

Nearly every country on earth is named after
one of four things


Quiz: Can you recognize the letter “G”?


On the business of books

Are ebooks dying or thriving? The answer is yes

Amazon has everything it needs to make
massively popular algorithm-driven fiction

Maverick women writers are upending the book industry and selling millions in the process​

A first-time author unwittingly exposed
the house of cards beneath “bestseller” books

America’s unhealthy obsession with productivity is driving its biggest new reading trend

America’s obsession with adult coloring
is a cry for help

Thanks for stopping by.