Author Joan Didion dies at 87 | News | DW | 23.12.2021

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Author Joan Didion dies at 87

Didion was known for her piercing insights and understated glamor. She died of Parkinson's disease at her home in Manhattan.

Joan Didion on a sofa

Joan Didion was a revered author and essayist

US author Joan Didion died at her home in New York, her publisher announced on Thursday. She was 87.

The literary icon, who was known for works such as Slouching Towards Bethlehem and The Year of Magical Thinking, passed away due to complications from Parkinson's, Penguin Random House said.

"Didion was one of the country's most trenchant writers and astute observers. Her best-selling works of fiction, commentary, and memoir have received numerous honors and are considered modern classics," 

Didion broke the writing mold

Along with Tom Wolfe, Nora Ephron and Gay Talese, Didion ushered in the era of new journalism with her essays on Los Angeles life in the tumultuous 1960s.

She engaged in the cool and ruthless dissection of politics and culture, covering everything from hippies to presidential campaigns.

"I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means," Didion said in a speech at her alma mater, the University of California in Berkeley, in 1975.

In the 2000s she wrote about the deaths of her husband and fellow writer John Gregory Dunne in The Year of Magical Thinking and daughter Quintana Roo Dunne in Blue Nights.

US author Joan Didion (centre) is escorted from the stage after being presented a 2012 National Humanities Medal by US President Barack Obama (right

US President Barack Obama awarded Didion the National Humanities Medal in 2012

Didion saw the world differently 

In 1991, long before the exoneration of the Central Park Five, Didion, advocated their innocence. She was worried about how race relations clouded the judgment of the police, jurors and reporters. 

In 2012 she was presented the National Humanities Medal and was praised for devoting "her life to noticing things other people strive not to see."

The 2017 Netflix documentary "Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold", by her nephew, actor-filmmaker Griffin Dunne, captured her life on celluloid.

lo/aw (AP, Afp, Reuters)