Erica Jong

Erica Jong

Jong, Erica (Erica Mann Jong), 1942-, American novelist and poet, b. New York City. She created a sensation with Fear of Flying (1973), a comic, picaresque novel of sex and psychiatry that challenged conventional views of women. Her other works include the poems in Half Lives (1973); the novels Fanny (1980), Any Woman's Blues (1990), and Sappho's Leap (2003); and the memoirs Fear of Fifty (1994) and Seducing the Demon (2006).
Erica Jong (née Mann, born March 26, 1942, in New York City, New York) is an American author and teacher.


A 1963 graduate of Barnard College, which is a women's liberal arts 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 first published in 1973, which created a sensation with its frank treatment of a woman's sexual desires.

Jong wrote Fear of Flying in the first person, and her main character suffers from the fear of flying in more than one way, including the literal one. As her airline flight is taking off from New York on its way to Vienna in Austria, she says, "My fingers (and toes) turn to ice, my stomach leaps upward into my rib cage, the temperature in the tip of my nose drops to the same level as the temperature in my fingers, my nipples stand up and salute the inside of my bra (or in this case, dress--since I'm not wearing a bra)..." She created a new type of heroine, that used an affair as a means to self-discovery, breaking the boundaries of the traditional narratives in which affairs lead to disaster.

Personal life

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 (1911-2007), was a painter and textile designer of Russian descent 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.). Among her nephews is Peter Daou, who writes "The Daou Report" for 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). Her daughter from her third marriage, Molly Jong-Fast, has published a novel (Normal Girl) and a memoir (Girl, Maladjusted). Jong-Fast's writing speaks of the emptiness she encountered in trying to live out the sexual liberties lauded in her mother's work. Jong-Fast is working on her third book, a novel (The Social Climber's Handbook).

Jong is now married to Ken Burrows, a New York divorce lawyer. In the late 1990s Jong wrote an article about her fourth marriage in the magazine Talk. Since she and her prospective husband knew much about the hazards of marriage, they drew up a prenuptial agreement. After ten years, they noticed that they had never taken it out of the drawer where it had resided since its signing. She and her husband decided that it was no longer needed, so they ceremoniously burned it. This act has become a tradition in some circles.

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 was mentioned in the Bob Dylan song "Highlands".

In 2007, her literary archive was acquired by Columbia University in New York City.

Views on September 11, 2001

Jong has publicly questioned the official version of the September 11, 2001 attacks. She has made an appearance on Showbiz Tonight and more recently on Real Time with Bill Maher. Jong has openly expressed her support for Charlie Sheen in his 9/11-related interviews, calling him "a brave man." (See 9/11 conspiracy theories.)


  • 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')
  • Parachutes & Kisses (1984)
  • Shylock's Daughter (1987): formerly titled Serenissima
  • Any Woman's Blues (1990)
  • Inventing Memory (1997)
  • Sappho's Leap (2003)



  • Fruits & Vegetables (1971,1997)
  • Half-Lives (1973)
  • Loveroot (1975)
  • At The Edge Of The Body (1979)
  • Ordinary Miracles (1983)
  • Becoming Light: New And Selected (1991)


  • 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


External links

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