Joan Didion, ‘New Journalist’ Who Explored Culture and Chaos, Dies at 87

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Joan Didion, whose mordant dispatches on California culture and the chaos of the 1960s established her as a leading exponent of the New Journalism, and whose novels “Play It as It Lays” and “A Book of Common Prayer” proclaimed the arrival of a tough, terse, distinctive voice in American fiction, died on Thursday at her home in Manhattan. She was 87.

The cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease, according to an email sent by Paul Bogaards, an executive at Knopf, Ms. Didion’s publisher.

Ms. Didion came to prominence with a series of incisive, searching feature articles in Life magazine and The Saturday Evening Post that explored the fraying edges of postwar American life. California, her native state, provided her with her richest material. In sharp, knowing vignettes, she captured its harshness and beauty, its role as a magnet for restless settlers, its golden promise…

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