Erica Jong (née Mann; born March 26, 1942) is an American novelist and poet, known particularly for her 1973 novel Fear of Flying. The book became famously controversial for its attitudes towards female sexuality and figured prominently in the development of second-wave feminism. According to Washington Post, it has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.
Early life and Education
Jong was born on March 26th, 1942 in New York. She was the second of three daughters of Seymore Mann and Eda Mirsky. Jong attended New York’s Public High School of Music and Art in the 1950's, where she developed her passion for art and writing. As a student at Barnard College, Jong edited the Barnard Literary Magazine and created poetry programs for the Columbia University campus radio station.
A 1963 graduate of Barnard College with an MA (1965) in 18th century English Literature from Columbia University, Jong is best known for her first novel, Fear of Flying (1973), which created a sensation with its frank treatment of a woman’s sexual desires. Although it contains many sexual elements, the book is mainly the account of a hypersensitive young woman, in her late twenties, trying to find who she is and where she is going. It contains many psychological, humorous, descriptive elements, and rich cultural and literary references. The book tries to answer the many conflicts arising in women in late 1960s and early 1970s America, of womanhood, femininity, love, one’s quest for freedom and purpose.
Jong was born and grew up in New York City. She is the middle daughter of Seymour Mann (né Nathan Weisman, died 2004), and Eda Mirsky (1911 - 2012). Her father was a businessman of Polish Jewish ancestry who owned a gifts and home accessories company known as “one of the world’s most acclaimed makers of collectible porcelain dolls”. Her mother was born in England of a Russian Jewish immigrant family, was a painter and textile designer who also designed dolls for her husband’s company. Jong has an elder sister, Suzanna, who married Lebanese businessman Arthur Daou, and a younger sister, Claudia, a social worker who married Gideon S. Oberweger (the chief executive officer of Seymour Mann Inc. until his death in 2006). Among her nephews is Peter Daou, who writes “The Daou Report” for salon.com.
Jong has been married four times. Her first two marriages, to college sweetheart Michael Werthman, and to Allan Jong, a Chinese American psychiatrist, reflect those of the narrator of Fear of Flying. Her third husband was Jonathan Fast, a novelist and social work educator, and son of novelist Howard Fast. This marriage was described in How to Save Your Own Life and Parachutes and Kisses. She has a daughter from her third marriage, Molly Jong-Fast. Jong is now married to Kenneth David Burrows, a New York litigation attorney. In the late 1990s, Jong wrote an article about her current marriage in the magazine Talk.
Jong lived for three years, 1966–69, in Heidelberg, Germany, with her second husband, on an army base. She was a frequent visitor to Venice, and wrote about that city in her novel Shylock’s Daughter.
In 2007, her literary archive was acquired by Columbia University in New York City.
Jong is mentioned in the Bob Dylan song “Highlands” (Time Out of Mind (1997) ). Jong supports LGBT rights and legalization of same-sex marriage and she claims that 'Gay marriage is a blessing not a curse. It certainly promotes stability and family. And it’s certainly good for kids.’
Fear of Flying (1973)
How to Save Your Own Life (1977)
Fanny, Being the True History of the Adventures of Fanny Hackabout-Jones (1980) (a retelling of Fanny Hill)
Megan’s Book of Divorce: a kid’s book for adults; as told to Erica Jong; illustrated by Freya Tanz. New York: New American Library (1984)
Megan’s Two Houses: a story of adjustment; illustrated by Freya Tanz (1984; West Hollywood, CA: Dove Kids, 1996)
Parachutes & Kisses. New York: New American Library (1984) (UK ed. as Parachutes and Kisses: London: Granada, 1984.)
Shylock’s Daughter (1987): formerly titled Serenissima
Any Woman’s Blues (1990)
Inventing Memory (1997)
Sappho’s Leap (2003)
Fear of Dying (Sept. 8, 2015)
Witches; illustrated by Joseph A. Smith. New York: Harry A. Abrams (1981)
The Devil at Large: Erica Jong on Henry Miller (1993)
Fear of Fifty: A Midlife Memoir (1994)
What Do Women Want? bread roses sex power (1998)
Seducing the Demon: writing for my life (2006)
Essay, “My Dirty Secret”. Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave (2007)
It Was Eight Years Ago Today (But It Seems Like Eighty) (2008)
Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real Sex Ed. Erica Jong (2011)
Fruits & Vegetables (1971, 1997)
At the Edge of the Body (1979)
Ordinary Miracles (1983)
Becoming Light: New and Selected (1991)
Love Comes First (2009)
* Poetry Magazine’s Bess Hokin Prize (1971)
Sigmund Freud Award For Literature (1975)
United Nations Award For Excellence In Literature (1998)
Deauville Award For Literary Excellence In France
Fernanda Pivano Award For Literary In Italy