Joan Didion Biography
(1934– ), Vogue, The National Review, Saturday Evening Post, Run River, Play It as It Lays
American novelist and essayist, born in Sacramento, California, educated at the University of California at Berkeley. Didion was a features editor for Vogue magazine, a contributing editor for The National Review, and a columnist for the Saturday Evening Post before establishing herself as a freelance writer. Her novels include Run River (1963), Play It as It Lays (1970), A Book of Common Prayer (1977), and Democracy (1984), but she is better known for her journalism and her essays, notably the volumes Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968) and The White Album (1979), which contain some of her most trenchant observations on contemporary America, particularly California in the 1960s and 1970s. Her other important works of non-fiction include Salvador (1983), based on her experiences in 1982 when she travelled through El Salvador, and Miami (1987). Later works include Sentimental Journeys (1993), a collection of essays, After Henry (1994), and Joan Didion: Essays and Conversations (1994). Her work in the essay form has been seen as an example of the ‘new journalism’ and compared with that of other ‘journalists’ such as Gay Talese and Tom Wolfe, while her fiction has been described as ‘post-modernist’, though neither attribution does full justice to her literary talents. Mark Royden's Joan Didion (1989) is a useful introduction to her life and writings.