Joan Didion, celebrated American writer and essayist, dead at age 87

joan didion

Joan Didion attends The American Theatre Wing’s 2012 Annual Gala at The Plaza Hotel.Jemal Countess/Getty Images

  • Joan Didion died on Thursday at the age of 87, according to her publisher.

  • She died due to complications from Parkinson’s disease in her New York City home.

  • Didion is known as a pioneer in New Journalism in the 1960s and 1970s.

Joan Didion, a celebrated American writer, died on Thursday, according to her publisher, Knopf.

The essayist died due to complications from Parkinson’s disease at the age of 87 in her New York City home.

“We are deeply saddened to report that Joan Didion died earlier this morning at her home in New York due to complications from Parkinson’s disease,” Knopf said in a statement shared with Insider.

Didion was an emerging voice in the 1960s and 1970s associated with the New Journalism movement.

Joan Didion in 1967

Writer Joan Didion stands at the panhandle of Golden Gate Park with a group of hippies during the writing of her article Slouching Towards Bethlehem. April 1967.Corbis Historical/Getty Images

Born in Sacramento California, in 1934, she began taking pen to paper at a young age, writing out Ernest Hemingway’s sentences to study their structure.

She went on to earn an English degree at the University of California, Berkeley, where she won Vogue’s essay contest. The achievement kickstarted her career, and Didion worked at the magazine for over a decade. She eventually became the publication’s associate features editor.

Over the course of her career, Didion authored novels such as “Run River” (1963) and “Play It As It Lays” (1970) along with essay collections including “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” (1968) and “The White Album” (1979).

In 1964, she married fellow writer John Dunne, with whom she co-wrote multiple plays. Together, they penned screenplays for “The Panic in Needle Park” (1971), “Play It As It Lays” (1972), “A Star Is Born” (1976), and “Up Close and Personal” (1996).

Following John Dunne’s death in 2003, Didion wrote “The Year of Magical Thinking” about the year following her loss.

Their daughter, Quintana Roo Dunne Michael, died in 2005 of pancreatitis, leading Didion to write the memoir “Blue Nights” about grief, motherhood, and aging.

Joan Didion in 1981

Portrait of American author Joan Didion as she sits in a chair in front of a bookshelf, Berkeley, California, April 1981.Janet Fries/Getty Images

Over the course of her career, Didion won the National Book Award, the American Academy of Arts & Letters Gold Medal in Criticism and Belles Letters, the National Medal of Arts and Humanities, and the PEN Center USA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

A portion of Didion’s National Book Foundation citation read: “An incisive observer of American politics and culture for more than forty-five years, Didion’s distinctive blend of spare, elegant prose and fierce intelligence has earned her books a place in the canon of American literature as well as the admiration of generations of writers and journalists.”

She was later awarded a National Medal of Arts and Humanities by President Barack Obama in 2013.

Shelley Wanger, her editor at Knopf, said, “Joan was a brilliant observer and listener, a wise and subtle teller of truths about our present and future. She was fierce and fearless in her reporting. Her writing is timeless and powerful, and her prose has influenced millions.”

Read the original article on Insider

Angelia S. Rico

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