Susan Sontag (1933–2004)
American essayist, art critic, and filmmaker. Born in New York City, Sontag grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and Los Angeles. After graduating from high school at fifteen, she started classes at the University of California at Berkeley, later earning philosophy degrees from the University of Chicago and Harvard University and studying further at Oxford University and the University of Paris. Sontag’s collection of essays Against Interpretation (1966) staked out her place as a serious intellectual, just as Trip to Hanoi (1968) established her reputation as a political and cultural critic. After a near-fatal bout with breast cancer, she wrote Illness as Metaphor (1978), followed by AIDS and Its Metaphors (1988). Sontag considered herself foremost a novelist; her novels include The Volcano Lover (1992) and the National Book Award–winning In America (2001). Her last collection of essays, Where the Stress Falls, appeared in 2001. See also susansontag.com.