Michael Bourdaghs was born and raised in Minnesota. He first visited Japan as an exchange student in 1984 and has returned many times since. He received his Ph.D. in East Asian Literature from Cornell University in 1996 and is currently Professor of Modern Japanese Literature and Chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. He has also taught at UCLA and International Christian University (Tokyo). He lives in Chicago with his wife Satoko and two children.