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Janet Malcolm is dead

Provocative author and journalist Janet Malcolm is dead

“Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible”. The quote is a journalist writing about another journalist’s morally questionable relationship to a source.

The quoted journalist is always provocative reporter and author Janet Malcolm who has died at the age of 86.

She wrote for magazine New Yorker for almost 60 years. Her first contribution was a poem on how it is to live in a shaker house. Over the years, she became known for her always subjective critiques of everything from art to journalism.

She was born in Prague but emigrated five year old to the US with her family to avoid the nazi era. She died at New York Presbyterian Hospital, according to her daughter, Anne Malcolm. The cause was lung cancer.

New Yorker editor David Remnick wrote that in the immediate hours and days after her death, we hope you’ll read her work. “Her sentences, clear as gin, spare as arrows, are like no one else’s. And her considerations—of psychoanalysis, of biography, and of journalism itself—are all examples of a rare and utterly free mind at work.”

Remnick praised Malcolm as a “master of nonfiction writing” and cited her willingness to take on her peers.

“Journalists can be among the most thin-skinned and self-satisfied of tribes, and Janet had the nerve to question what we do sometimes,” Remnick told The Associated Press.

Malcolm’s books include essays on photography and psychoanalysis, murder, art, literature and law. Her last was published 2019, essays with the title “Nobody’s looking at you”.

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