Joan Didion dies, aged 87

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Photo credit: CSU Archives / Everett Collection
Photo credit: CSU Archives / Everett Collection

Joan Didion has died in her Manhattan home, aged 87. The cause of death was Parkinson's disease, according to the New York Times.

Didion, an acclaimed author and journalist, is known for her social commentary and her clear-eyed, sharp view on American life. She will be remembered for her legacy to literature and prose, not least her acutely observed account of the 1960s which captured both the dark and light, spanning the Manson Murders and the Black Panther movement. Her tone, honest yet controlled, is instantly recognisable. A master of the perfect sentence, her seminal essay for Vogue, first published in 1961, was written not to a word count or a line count, but to an exact character count.

Her most influential books include Slouching Towards Bethlehem, The White Album, Blue Nights and the Pulitzer-winning The Year of Magical Thinking. The latter was written following the death of her husband, the writer John Gregory Dunne in 2003, and was the first book to explore grief in such detail and candour.

In 2012, Barack Obama awarded Didion the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities medal.

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