Cultural Icon & Legendary Author of Fear of Flying; Award-winning Poet, Essayist, and Best-selling Novelist; Specialist in Women’s Issues
Erica Jong is a poet, novelist, essayist, and cultural icon best known for her ground-breaking novel Fear of Flying. The internationally best-selling story of Isadora Wing coined a new phrase for a sex act and liberated a generation with a new way of thinking about gender, sexuality, and freedom in our society. 2013 marked the 40th anniversary of the book and Holt, the original publisher, reissued this seminal work with a new introduction by Jennifer Weiner. The anniversary edition was heralded with a cornucopia of press including a major New York Times article about the enduring significance of Fear of Flying and Jong’s rightful place in the literary canon. Her latest novel is Fear of Dying, was a critical hit in September, 2015.
Known for her commitment to women’s rights, authors’ rights, and free expression, Jong is a frequent keynote speaker and lecturer around the globe. She has spoken at International Women’s Day at the Royal Library in Copenhagen, THiNK India, the International Jewish Literature Festival in Rome, the Goteborg Book Festival, La Milanesiana in Milan, Italy, the Iowa Women’s Leadership Conference, San Miguel Writer’s Conference in Mexico, The Aspen Writers’ Foundation’s Summer and Winter Words, Skirball, and has given Master Classes at Barnard and Hunter Colleges in New York City.
In 1998, Erica was honored with the United Nations Award for Excellence in Literature. She has received Poetry magazine’s Bess Hokin Prize for her poetry and the Deauville Award for Literary Excellence in France. In Italy, she received the Sigmund Freud Award for Literature in 1975. In June 2009, Jong won the first Fernanda Pivano Prize for Literature in Italy.
Fear of Flying has sold 20 million copies in more than 40 languages. Her other best-selling books include How to Save Your Own Life, Fanny: Being the True History of the Adventures of Fanny Hackabout-Jones, Parachutes & Kisses, Shylock’s Daughter (or Serenissima), Any Woman’s Blues, Inventing Memory, and Sappho’s Leap. Her mid-life memoir Fear of Fifty also became a major international best-seller. Her latest book is the anthology Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real Sex (Ecco), which she edited.
In addition to speaking about women’s rights and the status and future of women today, Jong has remarkable insights about sexuality in America. Her life and career has afforded her this keen perspective and she uses the multi-generational and multi-cultural backgrounds gleaned from editing Sugar in My Bowl as a jumping off point for this discussion. In this eye-opening and courageous collection by women about sex, Jong reveals that every woman has her own answer to the question of what women want out of sex.
Fear of Dying is a hilarious, heart wrenching, and beautifully told story about what happens when one woman steps reluctantly into the afternoon of life. Vanessa Wonderman is a gorgeous former actress in her 60’s who finds herself balancing between her dying parents, her aging husband and her beloved, pregnant daughter. Although Vanessa considers herself “a happily married woman,” the lack of sex in her life makes her feel as if she’s losing something too valuable to ignore. So she places an ad for sex on a site called Zipless.com and the life she knew begins to unravel. With the help and counsel of her best friend, Isadora Wing, Vanessa navigates the phishers and pishers, and starts to question if what she’s looking for might be close at hand after all.
Jong is also the author of seven award-winning collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Love Comes First. She is also the author of five non-fiction (memoir and reporting) books and regularly blogs for The Huffington Post. Her work has appeared all over the world in magazines, newspapers, and blogs.
Jong served as president of The Authors’ Guild from 1991 to 1993 and still serves on the Board. She established a program for young writers at her alma mater, Barnard College. The Erica Mann Jong Writing Center at Barnard teaches students the art of peer tutoring and editing. Columbia University (where she received her M.A. in 18th century literature) acquired her literary archive in 2008.
Fear of Flying is in preparation as a BBC mini-series. She lives in New York City.
Praise for Erica Jong
“Erica was a total hit and a total doll to work with. My students absolutely loved her and so did the large audience which came out to hear her in the evening, an audience that included top university brass. Most importantly, my generous donor who makes my Jewish Lit Live class possible, was blown away.”
— Faye Moskowitz, Professor of English & Creative Writing, George Washington University
Praise for Fear of Dying
“How she was able to deal with all these sensitive issues and still make the book funny is amazing. I loved reading it.” —Woody Allen
“Transcends being a woman’s book and becomes a latter-day Ulysses, with a female Bloom stumbling and groping, but surviving.” —Wall Street Journal
“Sometimes poignant, Fear of Dying left me with a sense of relaxed cheer … Even in her 70s, Jong remains the brash, randy adventurer.” —The Atlantic
“Trailblazing in its own right.” —Time
“This bold, soaring novel tackles the big stuff.” —Harper’s Bazaar
“Defies the sunset of sex.”
—New York Times
“Erica Jong is back—as fearless as ever.”
“Jong taps into a wider revolution in older women’s lives … Fear of Dying examines in minute detail every older woman’s anxiety about her body … Jong’s creating a forum for discussion … Older women were also avid readers of Fifty Shades of Grey. After that, what else could shock? Only Erica Jong” —The Sunday Times
“A wise, warm, witty take on the taboo that replaced sex.”
“Fear of Dying is the perfect spirited, funny bookend to Erica Jong’s classic Fear of Flying. In this lighthearted, sexy and wise romp of a novel, Jong explores some deep truths about ageing, family, love and marriage after sixty. This novel is a wonderful, readable blend of entertainment and wisdom. I loved it!”
“Erica Jong has done it again! Fear of Dying is a big, bawdy, beautifully-written romp through online hookups, female friendships, children grappling with adulthood and parents negotiating with death. Fear of Dying is big, warm-hearted, generous book that will satisfy Jong’s longtime fans and delight her new readers.” —Jennifer Weiner
“Moving and deeply poetic, Fear of Dying is a compelling novel that truly understands the process of aging. With astonishing images on every page, Erica Jong gives us a veiled spiritual autobiography with an unstoppable quality, a narrative momentum that held me from first to last as it seamlessly unfolds from Jong’s previous work, yet with sharp new edge, giving us a wise book, a book to savor.” —Jay Parini
“Erica Jong has written a whip-smart, insightful, hilarious and ridiculously relatable new novel … Destined to be called an instant classic, I could not put this stunning book down. In 1973, Fear of Flying was the book we needed, now the book we need is Fear of Dying.” —Julie Klam
“When I interviewed Jong 40 years ago, she called Fear of Flying ‘a declaration of independence’. With its feisty violation of the verbal and sexual taboos of women’s writing, and insistence that female artists should have all the freedom of male artists, ‘it was a counterphobic book. Fear of Dying is counterphobic too … a literary Joan Rivers … Jong has turned the page, and as a writer she still has a lot to say.”
—Elaine Showalter, Guardian
“For young women of my generation, the story of Isadora Wing and her search for no-strings, satisfying sex was daring and startling and wonderful. It was like, ‘I am not the only woman who has fantasies – sexual or otherwise’. When I met Erica Jong, not long after the book was published, I couldn’t even speak because I was so in awe.”
—Judy Blume, Elle, on Fear of Flying
“This is the novel as hall of mirrors: a piece of literary self-analysis and celebrity self-mythologisation, as well as a first-person fiction about a woman facing old age and parental decline … Jong does write bravely and boldly about parental loss, about sex in marriage, and about almost giving up on something and then deciding not to.”
“In some ways the irrepressible Jong is just an old-fashioned girl for whom love and sex can never be entirely separated. As for the rest of us, we have to find our own sexual path. Thanks to outspoken Erica and others of her ilk, we can do so in the knowledge that sexagenarian sexuality is a celebration of life rather than a shameful secret.”
“Taps into a profound phenomenon of our times: never before has there been such a vast sea of older people (especially women) yearning for and usually gaining their freedom and independence, still in good nick and looking forward to many more years of life, love and, yes, bedroom frolics.” —Daily Express
“Fear of Dying, with its twin themes of ageing and mortality, gently satirizes the fact that the sex lives of the middle-aged are now fair game for multinational corporations.”
“Hilariously undaunted … refreshingly smutty and emotionally warm, it boldly explores late-life sexual adventure and longing, highlighting the intricate, often difficult relationship between sex, love and death.”
Praise for Sugar in My Bowl
“[A] fierce, fearless collection.”
— More Magazine
“The women of this collection make the case that good sex is never exclusively about the act, but also about how you approach it.”
“Abundant with affairs, marriages, motherhood, and our sexual sense of mortality it is a thoughtful read, a perfect aperitif on a summer evening. The stories penetrate a secret space in our brains we so often neglect: our sense of sexuality.”
“Jong has crafted candid accounts of love and passion from renowned female writers into a sensual and sensitive read.”
“[Sugar in My Bowl] runs the gamut from pornographic and hilarious to ironic and poignant. The result is a fun, quick, beach read, requiring as much or as little intellectual energy as the reader chooses to invest.”
— Chicago Sun-Times
“You can take these women seriously, laugh, squirm, and put hand over mouth at their weird, exciting, uncomfortable, joyous tales of ardor, while still admiring the agility of their prose.”
— The Daily
“Reading Sugar in My Bowl offers a rare opportunity to peer in on a breadth of intimate sexual experiences, a wide variety of motivations, and problems and desires you never knew existed – as well as the little thrill of stumbling upon a story that sounds like your own.”
— Slate Double XX