The World According to Joan Didion (Hardcover)

The World According to Joan Didion By Evelyn McDonnell Cover Image
Not currently in store. May be available on
Find us on to order!



A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2023 by The Millions B&N Best Books of 2023 “Shaped by intellectual rigor and artistic grace … McDonnell’s portrait is vibrant, fluent, sensitive, and clarifying.”Booklist, starred review

An intimate exploration of the life, craft, and legacy of one of the most revered and influential writers, an artist who continues to inspire fans and creatives to cultivate practices of deep attention, rigorous interrogation and beautiful style.

Joan Didion was a writer’s writer; not only a groundbreaking journalist, essayist, novelist and screenwriter, but a keen observer who honed her sights on life’s telling details. Her insights continue to influence creatives and admirers, encouraging them to become close observers of the world, unsentimental critics, and meticulous stylists.

An antidote to a global view that narrows our vision to the smallest screens, The World According To Joan Didion is a meditation on the people, places, and objects that propelled Didion’s prose and an invitation to journalists, storytellers, and life adventurers to “throw themselves into the convulsions of the world,” as she once said.

Evelyn McDonnell, the acclaimed journalist, essayist, critic, feminist, native Californian, and university professor who regularly teaches Didion’s work, is attuned to interpret Didion’s vision for readers today. Inspired by Didion’s own words—from her works both published and unpublished—and informed by the people who knew Didion and those whose lives she shaped, The World According to Joan Didion is an illustrated journey through her life, tracing the path she carved from Sacramento, Portuguese Bend, Los Angeles, and Malibu to Manhattan, Miami, and Hawaii. McDonnell reveals the world as it was seen through Didion’s eyes and explores her work in chapters keyed to the singular physical motifs of her writing: Snake. Typewriter. Hotel. Notebook. Girl. Etc.

One of the first books to be published after the revered writer’s death in 2021, The World According to Joan Didion is a literary companion for those embarking on new journeys and a guide to innovative ways of being. It will radically transform the way you explore the world, and will help you answer the question as you sit in a café, or on a plane or train, pondering the future: What would Joan Didion have seen?

The World According to Joan Didion includes 19 black-and-white illustrations and photos throughout.

About the Author

Evelyn McDonnell has written or coedited eight books, including Women Who Rock: Bessie to Beyonce. Girl Groups to Riot Grrrl and Queens of Noise: the Real Story of the Runaways. She has been a pop culture writer at the Miami Herald and a senior editor at the Village Voice. Her writing has appeared in anthologies and publications, including the New York Times, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, Ms., and Billboard. She teaches journalism at Loyola Marymount University and lives in San Pedro, California.

Praise For…

“Intrepid journalist, novelist, essayist, and memoirist Joan Didion inspires passionate admiration….Shaped by intellectual rigor and artistic grace in chapters coalescing around totem objects that figured prominently in Didion’s life and imagination … McDonnell’s portrait is vibrant, fluent, sensitive, and clarifying.”
Booklist (starred review)

“For the Joan Didion fan in your life, this is a must…it’s also just a wonderful appreciation for any literary-minded person, and certainly a fine introduction to the work and life of one of the most celebrated writers of the past 60 years. Smart and concise, it's a welcome and clarifying look at a hugely influential figure.” — Esquire, "The 30 Best Books for Holiday Gifting" Roundup

"Evelyn McDonnell has written a wonderfully fitting tribute to Joan Didion: one that avoids simple platitudes, approaching the great writer with a fierce, probing intelligence, flawless language, and the impulse, which drove Didion's finest work, to understand the dreams of another." — Hua Hsu, Pulitzer-winning author of Stay True

“…McDonnell, a writer and journalism professor at Loyola Marymount University, wisely stays away from traditional biography. Instead, she sets out to create ‘more of a notebook’ about Didion, to capture ‘what it was for her to be her, at different places and different times.’ Illustrations by the Brooklyn artist Anne Muntges enhance the tender, diary-like feel.”
Wall Street Journal

“McDonnell offers a thoughtful assessment of Didion’s importance but doesn’t shy away from Didion’s flaws…An appreciative portrait of an iconic author.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Joan Didion fans will delight in Evelyn McDonnell’s intimate portrait of the author and her work …McDonnell is a smart, concessive writer, not only praising the obviously talented Didion but ruminating on her shortcomings. … a thoughtful read.” 
Montecito Journal

“McDonnell’s deep knowledge and expertise shines brightly in THE WORLD ACCORDING TO JOAN DIDION, a heartfelt guide to Didion’s wide library of work that will not only serve newcomers looking to dive in, but also change the long-standing perceptions of the many who’ve read Didion’s classics numerous times.” — Alex Segura, bestselling author of Secret Identity

"A brilliant, visceral interpretation of "the queen of California Noir" — Allison Wolfe, of Bratmobile and cofounder of the Riot Grrrl Movement

"McDonnell skillfully offers all the lessons she’s learned from years of reading, considering, and teaching Didion. ... piercing and poignant. — California Review of Books

Product Details
ISBN: 9780063289079
ISBN-10: 0063289075
Publisher: HarperOne
Publication Date: September 26th, 2023
Pages: 256
Language: English