The Year of Magical Thinking

The Year of Magical Thinking Study Guide

The Year of Magical Thinking is a memoir written by the American writer Joan Didion. Most known for her literary journalism, Didion began writing The Year of Magical Thinking as a personal account of her grief not long after the death of her husband, the writer and critic John Gregory Dunne on December 30, 2003. The memoir was published in 2005. The period was a difficult one for Joan Didion as her daughter became ill around the same time her husband died. In the book, she talks both about her attempts to get over her husband’s death while also caring for their seriously ill daughter.

The title of the book is suggestive and makes reference to a practice called "magical thinking," which posits that a positive attitude and the wish to see something turn out in one way or another can influence the outcome of certain things. Apart from analyzing this practice, the author also includes studies analyzing how grief affects a person and how it can be overcome.

In 2007, the novel was adapted into a play directed by David Hare and the play was performed in various countries including Australia, Spain, Germany, Norway, France, and Canada. The novel was also extremely successful and critically acclaimed, winning the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2005 and being a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for autobiography.