Josh Lambert was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. He did his undergraduate work in American literature and creative writing at Harvard, where he wrote humor pieces for the Harvard Lampoon, published fiction in the Harvard Advocate, and won some writing prizes.
Between college and graduate school he published a pretty ridiculous cookbook, then spent a year at Columbia University’s MFA program in creative writing before dropping out. From 2002 to 2004, Josh edited books and a book review magazine, and had the pleasure of spending a few blissful weeks at the MacDowell Colony working on a novel. Between 2004 and 2009 he pursued a PhD in American literature at the University of Michigan, and received prizes there in literary and film studies, creative writing, and Jewish Studies. Meanwhile, he contributed reviews and essays regularly to newspapers and magazines; he is a contributing editor to Tablet, for which he wrote a weekly books column for two years, and for which he now writes an irregular column on comedy. He has also published reviews and essays in the Los Angeles Times, the Forward, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the National Post, and the Globe and Mail.
In January 2009, he published a book, American Jewish Fiction: A JPS Guide. That fall, he started as a Dorot Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow in the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University, where he taught courses in American literature and popular culture cross-listed with the departments of English, Comparative Literature, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Theater.
Since 2012, Josh has served as the Academic Director of the Yiddish Book Center, in Amherst, MA, and as a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. At the Center, he teaches courses in modern Jewish literature and popular culture, and directs the Great Jewish Books Summer Program, the 7-week Steiner Summer Yiddish Program, and Tent: Encounters with Jewish Culture. At UMass, he teaches courses including English 269: American Literature and Culture since 1865, and English 376: American Fiction since 1945.
His book, Unclean Lips: Obscenity, Jews, and American Culture was published by New York University Press in late 2013, and has won a Canadian Jewish Book Award and a Jordan Schnitzer Book Award from the Association for Jewish Studies.
He has given invited talks at institutions including the University of Connecticut, Princeton University, Trinity College, the University of Hartford, McGill University, Harvard University, and Columbia University, and he has spoken to lay audiences in Houston, New York, New Haven, Buffalo, San Francisco, Irvine, South Florida, and Chicago, alongside such writers as Cynthia Ozick, Andre Aciman, Dara Horn, Gary Shteyngart, Austin Ratner, Sana Krasikov, and Joy Ladin.
He lives in West Hartford, Connecticut, with his wife, son, and daughter.