Elizabeth Wurtzel, the author of the acclaimed confessional memoir Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America, has died at the age of 52.
She passed away on Tuesday at a Manhattan hospital following a long battle with breast cancer.
The author announced her diagnosis back in 2015 and had a double mastectomy.
However, the cancer metastasized to her brain and she died from complications from leptomeningeal disease, an illness that takes place when cancer spreads to the cerebrospinal fluid.
Prozac Nation author Elizabeth Wurtzel passed away on Tuesday at a Manhattan hospital at the age of 52 following a long battle with breast cancer
Her memoir, published at the age of 27 in 1994, was groundbreaking for its candid account of depression and drug addiction.
Her memoir, published at the age of 27 in 1994, was groundbreaking for its candid account of depression and drug addiction
The book was named after the antidepressant drug Prozac, which she was one of the first people to be prescribed, and revealed her harrowing journey with depression.
‘By turns wrenching and comical, self-indulgent and self-aware, “Prozac Nation” possesses the raw candor of Joan Didion’s essays, the irritating emotional exhibitionism of Sylvia Plath’s “Bell Jar” and the wry, dark humor of a Bob Dylan song,’ New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani wrote.
Her book was praised for sparking dialogue about clinical depression.
She followed up with the memoir Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women in 1998.
Then she published More, Now, Again in 2001, another memoir where she documented her drug abuse that landed her in and out of rehab.
Her writing made her a Gen X icon who helped revive the personal memoir genre in the 1990s.
Her writing made her a Gen X icon who helped revive the personal memoir genre in the 1990s
In her last Instagram she posed with her rescue dog Alistair on October 2019
Born on July 31, 1967, Wurtzel was raised in New York City and received a BA in comparative literature from Harvard College and a JD from Yale Law School.
In her book she revealed her battle with depression started between the ages of 10 to 12. After graduating from school she worked as a critic writer for the New Yorker and New York Magazine.
In a 2018 op-ed for The Guardian Wurtzel opened up about her cancer diagnosis writing: ‘Everyone else can hate cancer. I don’t. Everyone else can be afraid of cancer. I am not.
‘Do you know what I’m scared of? Nothing. Cancer just suits me.’
‘I am good in a fight. This one goes on for the rest of my life. But I have been fighting with myself in one way or another all along. I am used to it. I can’t think of a time when my mind or my body was not out to get me. I am at ease with this discomfort. I am a ballerina doing a pirouette with perfect turnout in toe shoes, and it does not even hurt any more. I am elated. I love spinning this way. I would not have it otherwise.
‘I am a con artist and cancer is my final con,’ she wrote.
Born on July 31, 1967, Wurtzel was raised in New York City and received a BA in comparative literature from Harvard College and a JD from Yale Law School. In her book she revealed her battle with depression started between the ages of 10 to 12
Tributes poured in on Tuesday, many praising Wurtzel for her imprint on literature and impact in fostering an open conversation on depression.
‘It’s impossible to convey the impact Elizabeth Wurtzel had in the ’90s. She was unapologetic, raw, honest. She stood for a very specific form of GenX femininity, confession, rage. We learned from her—and from how intensely she was mocked for writing about her own life,’ Washington Post journalist Erin Blakemore tweeted.
‘Incredibly sad. Bitch and Prozac Nation were incredibly formative to me as a young writer. I remember reading about Elizabeth in a magazine and having my mom take me to the local bookstore to order them when I was like 14,’ Atlantic writer Amanda Mull shared.
‘Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of Prozac Nation has died. This is so very sad. Lizzy was a classmate of Ronan at Yale Law – and soon became a friend to our family. She was brilliant, complex, fascinating, fun and kind,’ actress Mia Farrow tweeted.
‘I am just in shock about Elizabeth Wurtzel,’ Daily Beast editor Molly Jong-Fast tweeted.
‘Elizabeth Wurtzel! You were, and are now and forever divine!’ Elle magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll tweeted.
‘@KuzzueWurtzel was one of my closest and dearest friends. She fought this disease until the very end. Just 10 days ago she told me, “all there is to do is to move forward.” A beautiful soul. May her memory be a blessing,’ her friend Amy Friedman tweeted.
She is survived by her husband Jim Freed and mother Lynne Winters.