Erica Jong is an American author and teacher best known for her fiction and poetry.
A 1963 graduate of Barnard College, and with an M.A. in 18th century English Literature from Columbia University (1965), 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 young, hypersensitive 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 today's world, 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), a drummer turned 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". Born in England of a Russian immigrant family, her mother, Eda Mirsky (born 1911), 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 and was one-half of the dance-music group The Daou.
Jong has been married four times. Her first two marriages, to college sweetheart Michael Werthman and to Allan Jong, a Chinese American psychiatrist, share many similarities to those of the narrator described in 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, while he was stationed at an army base there. She was a frequent visitor to Venice, and wrote about that city in her novel, Shylock's Daughter. Jong is mentioned in the Bob Dylan song "Highlands."
In 2007, her literary archive was acquired by Columbia University in New York City.
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
After The Earthquake
After the first astounding rush,
after the weeks at the lake,
the crystal, the clouds, the water lapping the rocks,
the snow breaking under our boots like skin,
& the long mornings in bed. . .
After the tangos in the kitchen,
& our eyes fixed on each other at dinner,
as if we would eat with our lids,
as if we would swallow each other. . .
I find you still
here beside me in bed,
(while my pen scratches the pad
& your skin glows as you read)
& my whole life so mellowed & changed
that at times I cannot remember
the crimp in my heart that brought me to you,
the pain of a marriage like an old ache,
a husband like an arthritic knuckle.
Here, living with you,
love is still the only subject that matters.
I open to you like a flowering wound,
or a trough in the sea filled with dreaming fish,
or a steaming chasm of earth
split by a major quake.
You changed the topography.
Where valleys were,
there are now mountains.
Where deserts were,
there now are seas.
We rub each other,
but we do not wear away.
The sand gets finer
& our skins turn silk.
Where is Hollywood located? Chiefly between the ears. In that part of the American brain lately vacated by God.
Jealousy is all the fun you think they had.
To name oneself is the first act of both the poet and the revolutionary. When we take away the right to an individual name, we symbolically take away the right to be an individual. Immigration officials did this to refugees; husbands routinely do it to wives.
Every country gets the circus it deserves. Spain gets bullfights. Italy gets the Catholic Church. America gets Hollywood.
Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.
Perhaps all artists were, in a sense, housewives: tenders of the earth household.
If sex and creativity are often seen by dictators as subversive activities, it's because they lead to the knowledge that you own your own body (and with it your own voice), and that's the most revolutionary insight of all.
Men and women, women and men. It will never work.
Men have always detested women's gossip because they suspect the truth: their measurements are being taken and compared.
Gossip is the opiate of the oppressed.
In a bad marriage, friends are the invisible glue. If we have enough friends, we may go on for years, intending to leave, talking about leaving—instead of actually getting up and leaving.
Friends love misery, in fact. Sometimes, especially if we are too lucky or too successful or too pretty, our misery is the only thing that endears us to our friends.
Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't.
The only difference between men and women is that women are able to create new little human beings in their bodies while simultaneously writing books, driving tractors, working in offices, planting crops—in general, doing everything men do.
My generation had Doris Day as a role model, then Gloria Steinem—then Princess Diana. We are the most confused generation.
There is still the feeling that women's writing is a lesser class of writing, that ... what goes on in the nursery or the bedroom is not as important as what goes on in the battlefield, ... that what women know about is a less category of knowledge.
A baby is a full time job for three adults. Nobody tells you that when you're pregnant, or you'd probably jump off a bridge. Nobody tells you how all-consuming it is to be a mother—how reading goes out the window and thinking too.
Solitude is un-American.