David Rakoff, a popular writer and longtime contributor to This American Life, died yesterday of cancer at the age of 47.
Rakoff was a popular radio personality involved with This American Life since the show began. He was also an award-winning essayist, earning the acclaimed Thurber Prize for American Humor for his last essay collection, Half Empty. His first two books of essays, Fraud and Don’t Get Too Comfortable, won at the Lambda Literary Awards in the Humor category, celebrating excellence in LGBT literature, according to the Huffington Post. Rakoff was noted for his unique cynicism and was a beloved voice for both the gay and Jewish communities, reports Newser.
Rakoff was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in 2010. He has already survived a form of lymphatic cancer at the age of 22. Despite his characteristic negativity, he told Jon Stewart of The Daily Show that the “will to keep on going is incredibly strong … when it turns out to be your mortality on the line, people tend to be optimistic.”
Discussing his struggle with cancer further, Rakoff wrote the following for the New York Times:
“Fantastic days are what you wish upon those who have so few sunrises left, those whose lungs are so lesion-spangled with new cancer that they should be embracing as much life as they can. Time’s a-wasting, go out and have yourself a fantastic day! Fantastic days are for goners.”
A very touching piece by David Rakoff from a recent This American Life. It’s hard for me to think there won’t be more. youtube.com/watch?v=OEw_MP…
— Chris Berube (@ChrisBerube) August 10, 2012
Here’s the video of Rakoff on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: