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Joan Didion, a US Literary Icon, Dead at 87

Joan Didion, a US Literary Icon, Dead at 87

Saturday, 25 December, 2021 - 06:15
Author Joan Didion poses for a portrait in her New York apartment on Sept. 26, 2005. Kathy Willens/AP

Joan Didion, a US literary icon credited with ushering in New Journalism with her essays on Los Angeles life in the tumultuous 1960s, died on Thursday. She was 87.

Known for her piercing insights and understated glamor, Didion died at her home in Manhattan of Parkinson's disease, the New York Times said, citing her publisher.

Didion's early work included her seminal 1968 essay collection "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" -- which delighted critics and made her a bona fide star -- as well as "The White Album," another essay collection focusing on LA, and "Play It as It Lays," a novel about Hollywood lives.

Decades after her heyday as a Hollywood socialite, screenwriter, essayist and novelist, Didion found herself again in the spotlight for her searingly honest writing on bereavement following a harrowing double tragedy.

Didion was 69 when her husband and screenwriting partner John Gregory Dunne suffered a fatal heart attack and, less than two years later, the couple's daughter Quintana Roo was killed at age 39 by acute pancreatitis.

"This was never supposed to happen to her, I remember thinking -- outraged, as if she and I had been promised a special exemption," Didion wrote in her 2011 memoir "Blue Nights."

"When we talk about mortality, we are talking about our children."

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