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 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,
I was sick of being a woman,
sick of the pain,
the irrelevant detail of sex,
my own concavity
I want to understand the steep thing
that climbs ladders in your throat.
I can't make sense of you.
Everywhere I look you're there--
You gave me the child
that seamed my belly
& stitched up my life.