Gay humorist and essayist David Rakoff dies of cancer

Frequent contributor to NPR's This American Life was 47 and had written about his cancer battle

Gay humorist and essayist David Rakoff dies of cancer
10 August 2012

It was just last year that David Rackoff won the prestigious Thurber Prize for American Humor for his essay collection Half Empty.  One of the essays, another shoe, had the author ruminating about his battle with cancer and how there was chance he would have to have his left arm and shoulder amputated.

‘There are other extra-functional and non-cosmetic realities I have to consider,’ he wrote. ‘How does someone without a left arm know he’s having a heart attack, for example?’

On Thursday (9 August), Rakoff died from the cancer at the age of 47.

By the time of his death, the openly gay author had become a popular writer and radio personality making frequent appearances on the National Public Radio show This American Life.

His malignant tumor was diagnosed in 2010 ago and came more than 20 years after he had beaten another form of cancer: Hodgkins lymphoma.

Rakoff won Lambda Literary Awards for his first two books of essays, Fraud and Don’t Get Too Comfortable.

His writing reflected his life as a gay, Jewish man, his various neuroses, and his trademark negativity.

‘Because David’s writing was so goddamn funny, he was often mischaracterized as a satirist, but a satirist employs exaggeration to drive home social criticism, and David saw and portrayed the world clearly,’ his longtime editor, Bill Thomas, said in a statement to the National Post. ‘Underneath the indelible wit and perfect turns of phrase lay a sadness that people can be so cruel and selfish, and a belief that the only weapon against the world’s brutality was kindness and beauty.’

Shortly before his death, Rakoff had completed a novel which was written in verse called Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die; Cherish, Perish.

‘I had my doubts about the project when he proposed it, but I was wrong,’ Thomas said. ‘It is written with humor and sympathy and tenderness, and proves him to be the master of an altogether different art form.’

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Australia to end gender discrimination in public health scheme

Australia’s publicly funded medical scheme Medicare will remove all discrimination based on gender to ensure transgender and intersex people can access all the services they need
No thumbnail available

Bruce Jenner will present self as a woman for first time publicly in Diane Sawyer interview

TMZ reports reality star will not dress in female clothing for interview or reveal a name change
No thumbnail available

Russell Grant climbs aboard the HMS Pinafore

Gay Strictly Come Dancing astronomer star to appear in special performances of Gilbert and Sullivan classic
No thumbnail available

The Queen makes Britain’s gay poet laureate into a Dame

Besides Carol Ann Duffy, the Queen has also honored several LGBT campaigners, and stars from the world of TV and film, including the former Dynasty actor, Joan Collins
US pledges to pressure Nigeria to scrap anti-gay law

US pledges to pressure Nigeria to scrap anti-gay law

'Nigeria really went too far in discriminating against this community but also people who associate with them'
No thumbnail available

Chuck Hagel confirmed as US Secretary of Defense despite past anti-gay remarks

Log Cabin Republicans vow 'to make sure his change of heart is sincere'
No thumbnail available

Austrian Greens MEP Ulrike Lunacek attacked with acid at Vienna’s Rainbow Parade

Openly lesbian Greens MEP Ulrike Lunacek was sprayed with butyric acid at Vienna’s Rainbow Parade on Friday by an unknown assailant but she was not injured in the attack
No thumbnail available

Fourth Bangalore Queer Film Festival opens this weekend

Trans super heroes, experimental Arab short films, photography and performances in India's third city
No thumbnail available

Civil rights groups call on Arkansas governor to veto anti-gay bill

'If it becomes law, this bill will preempt local nondiscrimination laws and policies that offer protections on any basis not yet included in state law'
No thumbnail available

Trans woman CeCe McDonald set to be released from prison early

CeCe McDonald, who was convinced of manslaughter, is to be released 19 months into a 41 month prison sentence