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Famed humorist, author, and National Public Radio personality David Rakoff died on Thursday after a protracted battle with cancer. He was 47.
Rakoff published three essay collections: Fraud, Don’t Get Too Comfortable, and Half Empty. He was awarded a 2001 Lambda Literary Award for Fraud and another in 2006 for Don’t Get Too Comfortable. He was also a noted contributor to National Public Radio’s weekly program This American Life.
The Atlantic Wire reports,
According to an essay he wrote for The New York Times Magazine in 1994, Rakoff was born in Montreal to Jewish parents who immigrated to Canada from South Africa. Rakoff first moved to New York City, the place he would later describe as “the great love of my life.” He also worked briefly in Japan as a translator, but, at 22, he came down with his first bout of cancer—Hodgkins disease. He overcame the illness, which he liked to humorously downplay as “the dilettante cancer.”
Before devoting himself to writing fulltime, Rakoff worked in publishing. At this time, he befriended Ira Glass, then a producer at NPR’s Morning Edition. When Glass went on to create This American Life, he invited Rakoff to read his deadpan essays on the show. Along with David Sedaris, Rakoff would help establish the show’s distinctive voice. Rakoff also began pursuing a career as a prolific freelance journalist for the publications like New York, The New York Times, and Salon. He wrote three books of essays, Fraud, Don’t Get Too Comfortable, and Half Empty, and last year, he was awarded the Thurber Prize for Humor.
In 2010, the always incredibly witty Rakoff appeared on The Daily Show to talk about his last collection Half Empty.
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A full obituary will follow on LambdaLiterary.org shortly.
[Photo via Thuber House]