Skip to main content

Mira Jacob

Mira Jacob is the author of the novel The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, which was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick, shortlisted for India’s Tata First Book Award, longlisted for the Brooklyn Eagles Literary Prize, and honored by the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association. It was named one of the best fiction books of 2014 by Kirkus Reviews, the Boston Globe, and Goodreads. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, BuzzFeed, Vogue, and Glamour. She teaches fiction at NYU and the New School.


A page of Jacob’s travel diary during a trip to India, 1996. Photo by Sarah Blesener.

Mira Jacob’s Notes to Self

Summer 2017 | Articles

It began, as so many cultural inquiries do, with some confusion about Michael Jackson. The summer of 2014, Mira Jacob’s son (we’ll call him Z) was obsessed with the singer, which is to be expected of a six-year-old who knows what’s what. But any path into Jackson’s story, especially for a child of color (Jacob is Indian American; her husband is Jewish) invariably ends up in the territory of disconnect, the before and after of his complexion, making the pop star’s story, like the larger American one, a bit difficult to explain. What began with an obsessive imitation of the backstep from “Beat It” led to heavy rotation on the family turntable, with albums strewn across the room. “And then it was obvious,” Jacob recalls, “because Michael’s face is so big on those albums. You can see his skin get lighter. So of course Z begins to ask: Who is this person? How did this thing happen? Will it happen to us?”