Quite a few writers seem to be channeling Joan Didion these days, at least according to some agents and critics. And why not? After Didion's 2005 memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, about losing her husband and her daughter, topped bestseller lists and nabbed a National Book Award, memoirists and novelists are after the next literary exposition on grief.
Book:Aftermath (formerly called Aftermath) (Harper, fall 2008)
Author: Anne Roiphe
Who made the Didion comparison: Roiphe's agency, ICM
It's Year of Magical Thinking: “meets A Round-Heeled Woman”
What the book's actually about: A widow who, after a lengthy marriage, gets back into the dating scene via a personals ad placed by her kids.
Book:The Alchemy of Loss (formerly called Following the Smoke; McClelland & Stewart is publishing in Canada this spring; it's on submission in the U.S.)
Author: Abigail Carter
Who made the Didion comparison: Carter's agent, Denise Bukowski
It's Year of Magical Thinking: “for young widows with small children”
What the book's actually about: A 9/11 widow and mother making her way after losing her husband in the disaster.
Book:There Will Never Be Another You (Random, 2006)
Author: Carolyn See
Who made the Didion comparison: author Marion Winik in a review in Newsday
It's Year of Magical Thinking: “meets Michael Crichton's Prey”
What the book's actually about: A collection of characters orbiting the UCLA medical school in a nightmarish version of Southern California post-9/11; the narrator is a recently widowed mom. A looming bioterror threat underscores the action.
Book:Away (Random, 2007)
Author: Amy Bloom
Who made the Didion comparison: Leah Sandals in a review in the Canadian newspaper Now
It's Year of Magical Thinking: “meets Susanna Moodie's Roughing It in the Bush”
What the book's actually about: A 22-year-old Russian-Jewish immigrant searching for her daughter in 1924 America, after losing the girl in the pogrom that also killed her parents.