Joan Didion, the acclaimed novelist and literary icon, has died at the age of 87

Tributes are flooding in for the literary icon Joan Didion after her death at the age of 87. 

The acclaimed American novelist, essayist and journalist Joan Didion has died at the age of 87, the New York Times has confirmed. 

The writer – whose works include Play It As It Lays and The Book Of Common Prayer – died from Parkinson’s disease at her home in Manhattan on Thursday (23 December), an executive at her publisher revealed earlier today.

Didion first rose to prominence within the New Journalism movement of the 1960s and 70s, thanks to her writing on post-war US society. Her first novel, Run, River was published in 1963, and she published her last work just this year – a collection of 12 essays titled Let Me Tell You What I Mean, which were written between 1968 and 2000. 

In 2005, she won the National Book Award for Nonfiction and was a finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize for her memoir The Year Of Magical Thinking, an account of the year following the death of her husband.

Since the news of Didion’s death broke earlier today, people have been sharing their tributes to the writer across social media.

In a heartfelt Instagram post, the writer and columnist Terri White paid tribute to Didion’s talent for putting the world into words.

“For me, it wasn’t really how she was the world, it was the way she *wrote* it,” White said. 

“Wrestled and wrangled and made it live on the page. There were always words, even in latter years when you’d imagine her personal loss was overwhelming. Everything was copy. A woman who grafted and reported and watched and listened and loved and, more than anything else, *crafted*. I don’t know a writer who hasn’t been bettered by being with Joan Didion.”

The poet Maggie Smith has also reacted to the news, writing: “Oh no, not Joan Didion. This one hurts. Her sentences, my god – they are thrilling. That gets to stay in present tense.” 

The American writer and poet Saeed Jones also took to Twitter to pay tribute, choosing to reflect on the way Didion’s writing about grief helped him.

Year Of Magical Thinking was the first book I can recall picking up to read with the intention of trying to understand grief,” Jones shared.

“It was so foreign to me then; it felt like Joan Didion (also foreign to me then) was explaining that my life bordered a country I hadn’t realised existed.” 

And the editor and journalist Matthew D’Ancona added: “Anyone who cares about the written word will be in mourning today for this giant of the republic of letters. RIP.”

Images: Getty

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