David Rakoff, a prizewinning humorist whose mordant, neurotic essays examined everything from his surreal stint portraying Sigmund Freud in a Christmastime shop window display to his all-too-real battles with cancer, died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 47.
His death was announced by his mother, Gina Shochat-Rakoff.
Mr. Rakoff’s cancer had first appeared when he was 22 and recently reappeared as a tumor in his left shoulder.
David Rakoff was a Canadian-born writer based in New York City who was noted for his humorous, sometimes autobiographical non-fiction essays. Rakoff described himself as a “New York writer” who also happened to be a “Canadian writer”, a “mega Jewish writer”, a “gay writer’” and an “East Asian Studies major who has forgotten most of his Japanese” writer.
Rakoff published three bestselling collections of essays, which include his own illustrations. Both Fraud (Doubleday 2001) and Don’t Get Too Comfortable (Doubleday 2005) were awarded a Lambda literary award (which recognises excellence among LGBT writers who use their work to explore LGBT lives), both times in the “Humor” category. Half-Empty (2010) won the 2011 Thurber Prize for American Humor.