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Joan Didion

March 30-31, 2009

Bio

Joan Didion

Novelist, essayist and screenwriter Joan Didion has been an incisive observer of American politics and culture for more than forty-five years. Her 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.

In 2005 she won the National Book Award for The Year of Magical Thinking. Chronicling the year following her husband's death, the book is a personal account of losing a partner and an attempt to describe the mechanism that governs grief and mourning. In 2007 Ms. Didion adapted The Year of Magical Thinking into a play, which debuted on Broadway.

Didion's novels include A Book of Common Prayer and Democracy, and her nonfiction includes Slouching Towards Bethlehem and Where I Was From. Ms. Didion and her late husband, John Gregory Dunne, co-authored five screenplays including A Star Is Born and Up Close and Personal.

Her honors include the Gold Medal for Belles Lettres from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the 2007 National Book Award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In a review of We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live, Ms. Didion's collected nonfiction, the Chicago Tribune wrote, "Many of us have tried, and failed, to master [Joan Didion's] gift for the single ordinary deflating word, the word that spins an otherwise flat sentence through five degrees of irony. But her sentences could only be hers."

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