Sheila Heti

Author of How Should a Person Be?

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Sheila Heti | Author of How Should a Person Be?
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

Sheila Heti is an acclaimed author of five books. Her latest work, How Should a Person Be?—a “novel from life” about friendship, art, and much else—has struck a chord with a young generation of women and men, for whom this “original, and nearly unclassifiable book” (The New York Times) is a kind of touchstone for what it means to live in the early 21st century. 

Heti works as Interviews Editor at The Believer, and has contributed many interviews with writers and artists to the magazine. In 2001, she created Trampoline Hall, a non-expert lecture series hosted by Misha Glouberman that runs monthly in Toronto, and which has sold out every show since its inception. Heti “stars” in photographs as Lenore Doolan in Leanne Shapton’s book-as-auction catalogue, Important Artifacts…, which has been optioned for film. She also appears in Margaux Williamson’s film Teenager Hamlet, and with her runs The Production Front, which puts on shows and promotes the work of other artists. 


“A new kind of book and new kind of person. A book that risks everything—shatters every rule we women try to follow in order to be taken seriously—and thus is nothing less than groundbreaking: in form, sexually, relationally, and as a major literary work. With this complex, artfully messy, and hilarious novel, Heti has done the rare and generous thing of creating more room for the rest of us. This is how a person should be.”

— Miranda July, author of The First Bad Man

Heti’s How Should a Person Be? has sparked exuberant conversations, inspired countless think-pieces, and garnered positive reviews. In early 2013, Heti was nominated by TIME magazine for its TIME 100, a list of the most influential people on the planet; the magazine called HSAPB “among the most-talked-about books of 2012.” Before that, Heti wrote four critically acclaimed books, in as many genres. Her body of work includes The Middle Stories, a collection of short stories; Ticknor, a novel; We Need a Horse, an illustrated book for children, featuring art by Clare Rojas; and The Chairs Are Where the People Go, a book of “conversational philosophy,” co-written with Misha Glouberman, which was named as one of the Best Books of 2011 by The New Yorker. She is also the co-editor (alongside Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton) of Women in Clothes, a new book that explores the wide range of motives that inform how women present themselves through clothes, and what style really means.


Heti’s writing has also appeared in The London Review of Books, The Guardian, n+1, McSweeney’s, Bookforum, The New York Times, and other places, and her work has been translated into nine languages. She studied playwriting at the National Theatre School, in Montreal, before attending the University of Toronto to study art history and philosophy. She lives in Toronto.   

Speech Topics

How Should a Person Be? An Evening with Sheila Heti
Charming, candid, philosophical, Sheila Heti is sought after to discuss themes from her work, as well as the process—her process—of writing. Heti explores the questions that animate her books, especially the critically lauded How Should a Person Be? That work, paradoxically, is highly personal and broadly relatable: its many champions mention how much of themselves they see in the life, the struggles, and the ambitions of the book’s protagonist (a young writer named Sheila) and her group of friends. In a spirited keynote, Heti talks about relationships, sex, art, friendship, jealousy, urban life, and what it means to dedicate yourself to a craft—and to a truth—that is worth pursuing.