E. Lynn Harris Dies: Best-Selling Author Dead at Age 54
E. Lynn Harris died today, July 24, 2009, at the age of 54. The best-selling author was promoting his latest novel, Basketball Jones, across the West coast when he passed away. Harris was an openly gay author and was noted for his literary depiction of gay African American men in the closet. His personal assistant admitted that his health had been in decline but did not give explicit details.
Harris was best known for such successful novels as Invisible Life, Just As I Am, Too Good To Be True, Abide With Me, as well as his 2004 memoir What Becomes of The Brokenhearted. He specialized in writing about African-American gay culture, including the "down-low" phenomenon in the world of professional sports. (Basketball Jones is the story of an NBA star and his gay lover.) Born in Michigan and raised in Arkansas, Harris recently taught English at the University of Arkansas as a visiting professor.
Allison Rich, the Doubleday executive director of publicity, released a statement on Harris' passing saying,
“We at Doubleday are deeply shocked and saddened to learn of E. Lynn Harris’ death at too young an age. His pioneering novels and powerful memoir about the black gay experience touched and inspired millions of lives, and he was a gifted storyteller whose books brought delight and encouragement to readers everywhere. Lynn was a warm and generous person, beloved by friends, fans, and booksellers alike, and we mourn his passing.”