Joan Didion ’56

Joan–DidionOne of the nation’s most influential writers, Didion captures the mysteries of life and death in unflinching prose, reflecting on themes such as childhood, love, motherhood, aging, and grief. The Year of Magical Thinking, a response to the sudden death of her husband John Dunne, received the National Book Award in 2005 and has provided solace to readers as they prepare for the unavoidable losses we all endure. Her most recent book, Blue Nights, chronicles the death of her daughter, Quintana Roo, and her own struggles with whether she protected and loved Quintana as a mother should. In There Was Light, a book of essays by alumni, Didion wrote, “Without Berkeley, the world I know would have been narrowed, constricted, diminished: a more ordered and less risky world, but not the world I wanted — not free, not Berkeley, not me.”

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