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Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of ‘Prozac Nation,’ is dead at 52

The journalist and bestselling memoirist died from complications from metastatic breast cancer today, her friends and family report.

Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of Prozac Nation, is dead at 52
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Elizabeth Wurtzel, journalist and bestselling author of Prozac Nation, died today at a hospital in New York City at the age of 52.


Wurtzel previously announced she had breast cancer in 2015, undergoing a double mastectomy. Her husband Jim Freed reported to the Washington Post the cause of death was complications from leptomeningeal disease, a condition in which cancer spreads to cerebrospinal fluid. 


Wurtzel had a long career as an author and a journalist, but she is perhaps best known for her debut memoir Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America. The book was published in 1994 when she was 27. The book, an unflinching portrait of Wurtzel’s struggle with depression and drug addiction, became a bestseller and helped encourage a resurgence of the memoir genre in the 1990s. The book was later turned into a movie in 2001 starring Christina Ricci. 


Wurtzel was already working as a music critic for The New Yorker and New York Magazine before publishing her debut memoir. Later she published Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women in 1998 and More, Now, Again: A Memoir of Addiction in 2001. 


“I was born with a mind that is compromised by preternatural unhappiness, and I might have died very young or done very little,” Wurtzel wrote in 2013. “Instead, I made a career out of my emotions.”