Didion — whose body of work includes "Slouching Towards Bethlehem," "The White Album," "Where I Was From" and "The Year of Magical Thinking" (for which she was awarded the 2005 National Book Award for nonfiction) — will be honored at a ceremony to be held at the Marriot Marquis in midtown Manhattan.
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Cunningham will present Didion with the award, which has been bestowed upon such literary notables as Saul Bellow, Eudora Welty, Toni Morrison, John Updike and Norman Mailer.
Didion adapted her personal account of grief, "The Year of Magical Thinking," for the Broadway stage in 2007. Tony and Academy Award winner Vanessa Redgrave portrayed Didion, who, through her grief and memories, struggles to maintain security as her family dissolves about her.
In The Year of Magical Thinking Didion relives the death of her husband of 40 years, writer John Gregory Dunne, as the couple sat down for dinner in their New York City apartment. Complicated by Didion's ailing, comatose daughter Quintana, who Didion would also lose, the events of one night — and the year that followed — are recounted in a candid and intimate manner.
While the published memoir of "The Year of Magical Thinking" is Didion's best-selling work to date, it covers only Didion's experience and observations of her late husband's death. Her daughter Quintana died within months of the memoir's publication; however; Didion felt that the work was finished and opted not to expand the published work. She included the death of Quintana for the stage adaptation. In addition to her work as an essayist and novelist, Didion collaborated with her late husband, John Dunne, on the screenplays for "Play It As It Lays," "True Confessions," "Up Close & Personal" as well as "A Star Is Born" with Barbra Streisand. In 2005, Didion received the Gold Medal for Belles Lettres from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which is the highest honor the Academy awards to a writer.