JOAN DIDION was born in Sacramento in 1934 and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1956. After graduation, Didion moved to New York and began working for Vogue
, which led to her career as a journalist and writer. Didion published her first novel, Run River
, in 1963. Didion's other novels include A Book of Common Prayer
(1984), and The Last Thing He Wanted
Didion's first volume of essays, Slouching Towards Bethlehem
, was published in 1968, and her second, The White Album
, was published in 1979. Her nonfiction works include Salvador
(1987), After Henry
(1992), Political Fictions
(2001), Where I Was From
(2003), We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live
(2006), Blue Nights
(2011), South and West
(2017) and Let Me Tell You What I Mean
(2021). Her memoir The Year of Magical Thinking
won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2005.
In 2005, Didion was awarded the American Academy of Arts & Letters Gold Medal in Criticism and Belles Letters. In 2007, she was awarded the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. A portion of National Book Foundation citation read: "An incisive observer of American politics and culture for more than forty-five years, Didion's distinctive blend of spare, elegant prose and fierce intelligence has earned her books a place in the canon of American literature as well as the admiration of generations of writers and journalists." In 2013, she was awarded a National Medal of Arts and Humanities by President Barack Obama, and the PEN Center USA's Lifetime Achievement Award.
Didion said of her writing: "I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means." She died in December 2021.