"Ivanova describes the ways Sei and her work have been depicted, interpreted, marketed, enjoyed and disliked over a thousand years," The Times' Claire Kohda Hazelton wrote.
Hazelton called Ivanova's literary criticism "a work of immense value." Ivanova's book has received strong reviews elsewhere as well.
"Meticulously researched and persuasively argued, Unbinding The Pillow Book offers a dynamic portrait of one of the most important works of world literature and of the woman who wrote it more than a millennium ago," wrote Michael Emmerich, professor of Asian languages and cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles.
"Unbinding The Pillow Book is an erudite and often entertaining guide to the persona of Sei Shonagon and her peripatetic text, The Pillow Book," Rutgers University professor Paul Schalow wrote. "I cannot think of a better match between a scholar and her subject. It is a dazzling accomplishment."