Sontag died today [Tuesday] of leukemia at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The L.A. Times online obituary by her good friend, Book Editor Steve Wasserman, calls Sontag "one of America’s most influential intellectuals, internationally renowned for the passionate engagement and breadth of her critical intelligence and her ardent activism in the cause of human rights." She was raised in Los Angeles and graduated from North Hollywood High School before attending UC Berkeley, the University of Chicago, Harvard and Oxford. From the news story on the New York Times website:
Ms. Sontag's best-known books, all published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, include the novels "Death Kit" (1967), "The Volcano Lover" (1992) and "In America" (2000); the essay collections "Against Interpretation" (1966), "Styles of Radical Will" (1969) and "Under the Sign of Saturn" (1982); the critical studies "On Photography" (1977) and "AIDS and Its Metaphors" (1989); and the short-story collection "I, Etcetera" (1978).
Her most recent book, published last year, was "Regarding the Pain of Others," a long essay on the imagery of war and disaster. One of her last published essays, "Regarding the Torture of Others," written in response to the torture of Iraqi prisoners by Americans at Abu Ghraib prison, appeared in The New York Times Magazine of May 23, 2004.
Her death was announced by her son David Rieff, the author of Los Angeles: Capital of the Third World among other books. Early blog reaction at Maud Newton, A Fool in the Forest, Marc Cooper and James Wolcott. (Sontag's contribution to the literature of the San Fernando Valley is noted at America's Suburb.com)