One of the bits of trivia surrounding Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ death Wednesday (Oct. 5) is his connection to the novel “Anywhere But Here” by Mona Simpson. So what’s the deal?
Simpson is Jobs’ biological sister, though they didn’t know each other until they were adults. His biological parents, Joanne Schieble and Abdulfattah Jandali, were unmarried when he was born in 1955 and gave him up for adoption. They married 10 months later and had Mona (who later took stepfather George Simpson’s name) in 1957.
Jobs tracked down his biological mother and sister in the 1980s, and he and Simpson became close. She dedicated “Anywhere But Here,” her first novel, to “Joanne, our mother, and my brother Steve.”
“Anywhere But Here,” published in 1987, (and adapted for a 1999 movie starring Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman) is the story of Adele August, who leaves her second husband and takes her daughter Ann from Wisconsin to Los Angeles to fulfill her dreams, including one that Ann become a child star. It earned stellar reviews (the movie, less so), and it’s now seeing a bump in interest thanks to Simpson’s relationship to Jobs.
One of her later novels, “A Regular Guy,” had as its central character a Silicon Valley visionary not unlike Jobs. In a 1997 New York Times Magazine profile of Jobs, he called Simpson “one of my best friends in the world,” and she said of him, “I admire him enormously.”