Updated at 2:15 p.m. ET
Elizabeth Wurtzel, whose 1994 memoir Prozac Nation became a mainstay on bestseller lists and inspired a national conversation about clinical depression, has died at the age of 52. David Lipsky, a friend of Wurtzel, confirmed to NPR that the writer died Tuesday of an aggressive case of breast cancer at a hospital in Manhattan.
The news comes as a blow to Wurtzel's many readers, who were introduced to her brash, unapologetic style with Prozac Nation, published while she was still in her mid-20s. The memoir traced her struggles with depression, growing up in a fractured family and spending a rocky tenure studying at Harvard—and in the process, it earned Wurtzel a raft of fans and critics, almost in equal measure.
But as the unapologetic writer would be the first to tell you, she embraced the book's complicated reception, which can be neatly encapsulated by a New York Times review at the time that described it as "wrenching and comical," "self-indulgent and self-aware"—redolent of Bob Dylan and Joan Didion while still in need of "some strict editing."
That didn't particularly faze Wurtzel, who acknowledged in a 2018 piece announcing her breast cancer diagnosis that "I was early for history."