Joan Didion, Beloved American Writer and 'New Journalist', Dead at 87

Joan Didion
Joan Didion


Joan Didion, the beloved American writer, died Thursday at her home in New York due to complications from Parkinson's disease, according to the New York Times.

"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 Publishing said in a statement according to USA Today.

Didion — born in California in 1934 — attended the University of California, Berkeley, and moved to New York after graduation where she began her career at the iconic fashion magazine, Vogue.

She released her first novel, Run River, in 1963, sparking a career that would span several decades and include works such as 1968's Slouching Towards Bethlehem, 1979's The White Album, and 2005's The Year of Magical Thinking, which won a National Book Award for nonfiction writing.

"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," Penguin Random House said in a statement, published by the Associated Press.

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Joan Didion
Joan Didion

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While living in New York, Didion met and married novelist John Gregory Dunne in 1964, adopting daughter Quintana Roo three years later.

Their story together ended tragically when Dunne died of a massive heart attack in December 2003. She wrote about the year following his death in her book The Year of Magical Thinking. Their daughter died at age 39 in 2005 of complications from a flu that turned into pneumonia, NPR reported.

"It has not left my mind since it happened," Didion told the outlet at the time. "I live with it, so naturally I can talk about it. ... I couldn't talk about it at first, but I can now."

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Joan Didion
Joan Didion

Janet Fries/Getty

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"We all survive more than we think we can," she continued. "We imagine things — that we wouldn't be able to survive, but in fact, we do survive. ... We have no choice, so we do it."

A number of writers and fans paid tribute to Didion on social media following the news.

"Another staggering loss," wrote writer Roxane Gay.

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Added Glennon Doyle: "Thank you, Joan Didion, for explaining everything to us. I hope you're finally reunited with your girl and partner, explaining the afterlife to everyone there."

Didion's life was recently chronicled in the Netflix documentary titled Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold. The documentary was directed by her nephew, Griffin Dunne.