Elizabeth Wurtzel: Prozac Nation author dies at the age of 52

7 January 2020, 18:05

Elizabeth Wurtzel has died aged 52
Elizabeth Wurtzel has died aged 52. Picture: Getty
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Elizabeth Wurtzel, journalist and author of the best-selling memoir Prozac Nation, has died of cancer at the age of 52.

The writer died on Tuesday at a hospital in Manhattan, New York, her husband Jim Freed confirmed.

In 2015, she announced she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, however the disease spread to her brain despite undergoing a double mastectomy.

The cause of death was recorded as complications from leptomeningeal disease, which occurs when cancer spreads to the cerebrospinal fluid.

Her memoir, Prozac Nation, was praised for tackling her personal battles with clinical depression and substance abuse.

However, it divided critics for discussing topics previously considered taboo.

Karen Schoemer wrote in a scathing review for Newsweek: "Wurtzel’s nation is a nation of one.

"She makes only tenuous attempts to draw parallels between herself and her generation, and she randomly blames her parents, her therapists, her friends, the divorce rate, drugs and the times for her problems."

Elizabeth Wurtzel was well-known for her memoir Prozac Nation
Elizabeth Wurtzel was well-known for her memoir Prozac Nation. Picture: Getty

On the other hand, Michiko Kakutani, heaped praise on the author, saying: "Ms Wurtzel herself is hyperaware of the narcissistic nature of her problems, and her willingness to expose herself — narcissism and all — ultimately wins the reader over."

Wurtzel received critical acclaim for her deeply confessional style and self-deprecating voice.

She has been credited with playing a key role in the explosion of the first-person essay and memoir genre that was popular in the early years of the Internet.

The groundbreaking author wrote about her experience with breast cancer in The New York Times in 2015.

"I could have had a mastectomy with reconstruction and skipped the part where I got cancer," she wrote.

"I feel like the biggest idiot for not doing so."

Actress and former fashion model Mia Farrow paid tribute to the author on Twitter.

She wrote: "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."

Author of Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers, Sady Doyle, also took to Twitter to remember Wurtzel.

"People spent so many years writing about Elizabeth Wurtzel as a Sad Example Of Something -- female memoir-writers, women who got famous for being themselves, young women generally -- and to see her gone so young is a harsh reminder of how cruel that was," she said.

American political commentator and media personality Margaret Hoover, praised the writer for her "wit, love, brilliance, zany nature and magnetism."

She said: "Well my dear, @LizzyWurtzel, you’re trending again.Your wit, love, brilliance, zany nature and magnetism are already missed.

"Your writing helped me and so many others. Your smile and that devilish sparkle in your eye radiated. Rest In Peace my friend."