Joan Didion, a literary icon who chronicled 60s and 70s US culture, with screenwriting credits including 1976 film A Star Is Born, has died aged 87.
The incisive US novelist and essayist examined the fragmentation of US life in books like 1968’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem and 1979’s The White Album.
Her Pulitzer Prize-winning The Year of Magical Thinking mined her own grief following the death of her husband.
She died of Parkinson’s disease, her publisher, Knopf, told the BBC.
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” Didion once wrote, and she spoke of the act of writing more astutely than perhaps anyone else.
She was revered by legions of young and aspiring writers for her cool, terse and distinctive voice.
“No one writes better English prose than Joan Didion,” wrote literary critic John Leonard, who once described Didion’s prose as “ice pick laser beams”.
Didion was said to be fiercely protective of her work, not letting on about the latest subject of interest to her closest friends until it was ready to publish.
She received the National Medal of Arts in 2013 from US President Barack Obama, who described her at the time as “one of the most celebrated American writers of her generation” and “one of our sharpest and most respected observers of American politics and culture”.
“I wanted not a window on the world but the world itself,” she wrote in her essay collection Let Me Tell You What I Mean, published this year.
Her literary bona fides were unaffected by a growing pop-culture fascination, including advertising campaigns with both Gap (in 1989) and Celine (in 2015).
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