"Ambivalence is a wonderful tune to dance to. It has a rhythm all its own.""And the trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more.""Every country gets the circus it deserves. Spain gets bullfights. Italy gets the Catholic Church. America gets Hollywood.""Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.""Fame means millions of people have the wrong idea of who you are.""Friends love misery, in fact. Sometimes, especially if we are too lucky or too successful or too pretty, our misery is the only thing that endears us to our friends.""Gossip is the opiate of the oppressed.""He who can take advice is sometimes superior to him who can give it.""I have accepted fear as a part of life - specifically the fear of change... I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back.""I write lustily and humorously. It isn't calculated; it's the way I think. I've invented a writing style that expresses who I am.""If you don't risk anything, you risk even more.""In a bad marriage, friends are the invisible glue. If we have enough friends, we may go on for years, intending to leave, talking about leaving - instead of actually getting up and leaving.""It is the city of mirrors, the city of mirages, at once solid and liquid, at once air and stone.""Jealousy is all the fun you think they had.""Men and women, women and men. It will never work.""Men have always detested women's gossip because they suspect the truth: their measurements are being taken and compared.""No one ever found wisdom without also being a fool. Writers, alas, have to be fools in public, while the rest of the human race can cover its tracks.""Perhaps all artists were, in a sense, housewives: tenders of the earth household.""Show me a woman who doesn't feel guilty and I'll show you a man.""Singularity shows something wrong in the mind.""Solitude is un-American.""Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.""The stones themselves are thick with history, and those cats that dash through the alleyways must surely be the ghosts of the famous dead in feline disguise.""The trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more.""There is still the feeling that women's writing is a lesser class of writing, that what goes on in the nursery or the bedroom is not as important as what goes on in the battlefield, that what women know about is a less category of knowledge.""Where is Hollywood located? Chiefly between the ears. In that part of the American brain lately vacated by God.""Women are the only exploited group in history to have been idealized into powerlessness.""You see a lot of smart guys with dumb women, but you hardly ever see a smart woman with a dumb guy.""You take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame."
A 1963 graduate of Barnard College, and with an M.A. in 18th century English Literature from Columbia University (1965), Jong is best known for her first novel, Fear of Flying (1973), which created a sensation with its frank treatment of a woman's sexual desires. Although it contains many sexual elements, the book is mainly the account of a young, hypersensitive woman, in her late twenties, trying to find who she is and where she is going. It contains many psychological, humorous, descriptive elements, and rich cultural and literary references. The book tries to answer the many conflicts arising in women in today's world, of womanhood, femininity, love, one's quest for freedom and purpose.
Jong was born and grew up in New York City. She is the middle daughter of Seymour Mann (né Nathan Weisman, died 2004), a drummer turned businessman of Polish Jewish ancestry who owned a gifts and home accessories company known as "one of the world's most acclaimed makers of collectible porcelain dolls". Born in England of a Russian immigrant family, her mother, Eda Mirsky (born 1911), was a painter and textile designer who also designed dolls for her husband's company. Jong has an elder sister, Suzanna, who married Lebanese businessman Arthur Daou, and a younger sister, Claudia, a social worker who married Gideon S. Oberweger (the chief executive officer of Seymour Mann Inc. until his death in 2006). Among her nephews is Peter Daou, who writes "The Daou Report" for salon.com and was one-half of the dance-music group The Daou.
Jong has been married four times. Her first two marriages, to college sweetheart Michael Werthman and to Allan Jong, a Chinese American psychiatrist, share many similarities to those of the narrator described in Fear of Flying. Her third husband was Jonathan Fast, a novelist and social work educator, and son of novelist Howard Fast (this marriage was described in How to Save Your Own Life and Parachutes and Kisses). She has a daughter from her third marriage, Molly Jong-Fast.Jong is now married to Kenneth David Burrows, a New York litigation attorney. In the late 1990s Jong wrote an article about her current marriage in the magazine Talk.
Jong lived for three years, 1966-69, in Heidelberg, Germany, with her second husband, while he was stationed at an army base there. She was a frequent visitor to Venice, and wrote about that city in her novel, Shylock's Daughter. Jong was mentioned in the Bob Dylan song "Highlands."
In 2007, her literary archive was acquired by Columbia University in New York City.