“The passing of Joan Didion is a great loss to the literary world. Her clear-eyed contribution to the cultural discourse of the 60s and 70s (and beyond), to the essay form, and to fiction made her without a doubt one of the most exceptional writers of her generation.” – Kate Mayor, Dymocks Category Manager
In the 1960s, Didion helped bring a new style of journalism to the world, where literary prose was combined with reporting to birth a more personal and intimate perspective. This can be seen through the influence of Ernest Hemingway, whose work taught her the importance of sentences within a body of work.
Joan Didion circa 1977. From the cover of Slouching Towards Bethlehem (4th Estate).
Her famed work from this time, including Slouching Towards Bethlehem and The White Album, are considered essentials of literary journalism, casting a sharp look at the age of self-discovery and breaking the myths around the perceived glamour.
In her later years she provided an even more personal account of her life with the loss of her husband and writing partner John Gregory Dunne examined in The Year Of Magical Thinking. With the death of her only daughter Quintana less than two years later, Didion provided another sharply honest account of children, illness and aging in Blue Nights.
Her work remains and though it examines specific times in history and of her life, the deeply personal way of writing about life and love and loss are universally shared experiences that people will be able to draw on for years to come.
“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” – Why I Write (essay originally published in The New York Times Book Review in 1976)