Essayist David Rakoff Dead at 47

Actor David Rakoff from the film "The New Tenants" attends the Tribeca Film Festival 2010 portrait studio at the FilmMaker Industry Press Center on April 27, 2010 in New York, New York. Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images

David Rakoff, the author of several essay collections (including Half Empty, which won the 2011 Thurber Prize for Humor) and a regular contributor to "This American Life," died last night at his home in Manhattan, according to his family. Rakoff had been diagnosed with cancer in 2009; he wrote about the experience for The New York Times Magazine last year.