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Joan Didion: The NPR interviews

Joan Didion arrives at the opening night of <em>The Year Of Magical Thinking</em>, a play based on her memoir by the same name, at the Booth Theatre on March 29, 2007, in New York City.
Bryan Bedder
Getty Images
Joan Didion arrives at the opening night of The Year Of Magical Thinking, a play based on her memoir by the same name, at the Booth Theatre on March 29, 2007, in New York City.

NPR's coverage of Joan Didion, who died Thursday at age 87, dates back to 1977, where she described what she meant when she wrote "writers are always selling somebody out" in the introduction of her 1968 book Slouching Towards Bethlehem.

"And all I meant by it was that it is impossible to describe anybody – a friend, or somebody you know very well – and please them," Didion told NPR's Susan Stamberg. "Because your image of them, no matter how flattering, never corresponds with their self-image."

In 2001, Political Fictions was released exactly a week after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Through a collection of essays, Didion explored how news is presented to the public, including presidential coverage of the Reagan, first Bush, and Clinton administrations.

In a 2005 interview with Susan Stamberg, Didion read the first four lines of The Year of Magical Thinking, a book that chronicles her grief after her husband and writer John Gregory Dunne had a heart attack at the dinner table in 2003:

"Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends. The question of self-pity."

The memoir won the 2005 nonfiction National Book Award.

The same year The Year of Magical Thinking was published, their daughter Quintana Roo Dunne died at age 39. In Blue Nights, Didion wrote about her daughter's life and death.

"I don't think I started mourning for her until I started writing this book," Didion told Terry Gross on Fresh Air.

Following are Didion's NPR interviews, organized by book title:

A Book of Common Prayer (1977)

  • Why 'Writers Are Always Selling Somebody Out,' According To Joan Didion - April 4, 1977
  • Political Fictions (2001)

  • Joan Didion - Oct. 26, 2001
  • A Year of Magical Thinking (2005)

  • Joan Didion Survives 'The Year of Magical Thinking'– Sept. 30, 2005
  • Joan Didion, Writing a Story After an Ending – Oct. 13, 2005
  • We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live: Collected Nonfiction (2006)

  • In Literature, What Makes a Classic? - Nov. 21, 2006
  • Blue Nights (2011)

  • Sorrowful 'Blue Nights': Didion Mourns Her Daughter – Nov. 1, 2011
  • Joan Didion: Crafting An Elegy For Her Daughter – Nov. 2, 2011
  • Let Me Tell You What I Mean (2021)

  • Joan Didion's 'Let Me Tell You What I Mean' Offers Plenty Of 'Journalistic Gold' - Jan. 27, 2021
  • Tien Le is an intern on NPR's News Desk.

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    Tien Le
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