In 2005, Joan Didion won a National Book Award for Nonfiction and two years later the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In 2013, President Barack Obama bestowed on her the National Medal of Arts. Now, having just celebrated her 85th birthday on December 5th, Didion joins the pantheon of great American writers in the Library of America series, an event that has been greeted with excitement, and an outpouring of generosity, from a distinguished group of Hollywood book lovers.
Many of Didion’s film industry friends and colleagues have come forward to support the publication in a demonstration of their enduring respect for her contributions to page and screen. Joan Didion: The 1960s & 70s is published with support from:
|Harrison Ford, in memory of Melissa Mathison and Earl McGrath
Alan Alda • Big Beach • Boaty Boatwright • Susan L. Brody • Lucy Fisher and Douglas Z. Wick • Louise Grunwald • Penelope C. Hall • David Hare • ICM Partners • Kathleen Kennedy • Lyn and Norman Lear • Carey Lowell • Liam Neeson • Wyndham Robertson • Richard Roth • Meryl Streep • Jann Wenner
Didion’s connection to the movie business began in 1964 with film reviews for Vogue (among them a scathing appraisal of The Sound of Music that got her fired). She and her husband, John Gregory Dunne, went on to co-write four screenplays, and their temporary move to Los Angeles became a permanent residence. Not content to have written the definitive farewell-to-New-York essay (“Goodbye to All That”), she soon reinvented herself as the essential L.A. writer of her time and wrote one of the definitive novels of Hollywood, Play It As It Lays. Didion’s remarkable literary gifts, stylish appearance, and vibrant presence on the city’s social scene transformed the introverted writer into an American icon.
Didion’s longtime film and TV agent Boaty Boatwright commended Library of America “for offering Didion a permanent place in literature. I consider Joan Didion to be the definitive, greatest nonfiction writer of the twentieth century. The thought of Joan’s work not being in permanent publication for all the future young generations, who will fall in love with her words, is more than one can comprehend.”
Didion’s grand-niece Annabelle Dunne, who with the writer’s nephew Griffin Dunne made the 2017 documentary Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, acknowledged the timeliness of the LOA publication: “It is truly wonderful to see this honor bestowed upon her, ensuring that her words will be available to readers of all ages for years to come.”
The Library of America Joan Didion edition will comprise three volumes gathering her complete works. The inaugural volume, Joan Didion: The 1960s & 70s, edited by David L. Ulin, collects the five books that established Didion as one of the most original and influential literary figures of our time: Run River, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Play It As It Lays, A Book of Common Prayer, and The White Album.