Beloved New York Times Best-Selling Author Eric Jerome Dickey Dies at 59

Author Eric Jerome Dickey attends the 5th Anniversary of the African American Literary Award Show on September 24, 2009, in New York City.
Author Eric Jerome Dickey attends the 5th Anniversary of the African American Literary Award Show on September 24, 2009, in New York City.
Photo: Jemal Countess (Getty Images)

The Root is sad to report the death of celebrated African-American contemporary author Eric Jerome Dickey. The news was confirmed on Tuesday by a representative from Dickey’s longtime publisher, Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House, in the following statement issued to The Root:

“It is with great sadness that we confirm that beloved New York Times bestselling author Eric Jerome Dickey passed away on Sunday, January 3, in Los Angeles after battling a long illness. He was 59.”

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A native of Memphis, Tenn., Dickey graduated from the University of Memphis with a degree in Computer System Technology. In 1983, he moved to Los Angeles, where he initially pursued a career in engineering, but it wasn’t until he landed a career in the aerospace industry that his artistic skills and talents began to emerge. He soon delved into the world of comedy and acting, writing scripts for his own acts, and later evolved into penning poems and short stories. His debut work would eventually be published in 1996, a novel by the name of Sister, Sister, which tells the story of “modern women taking on the classic dilemma of love, never backing down, never giving in, and never giving up.”

Over the course of his career, Dickey wrote 29 novels, poetically capturing various, nuanced portrayals of Black love and life, as well as novellas, numerous short stories, and miniseries. His novels Chasing Destiny, Liar’s Game, Between Lovers, Thieves’ Paradise, The Other Woman, Drive Me Crazy, Genevieve, Naughty or Nice, Sleeping with Strangers, Waking with Enemies, and Pleasure earned him repeated spots on The New York Times’ Best Sellers list, also frequenting recommended reading lists in publications such as Essence, LA Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. Dickey also authored a six-issue miniseries of Marvel comic books featuring Storm (X-Men) and the Black Panther.

An outpouring of support from other giants in the writing community, as well as loyal readers who credit Dickey’s work as their first introduction to African-American fiction, has appeared on social media since the news of his passing.

Bad Feminist author Roxane Gay wrote on Twitter: “I am truly saddened to hear about the passing of Eric Jerome Dickey. His were some of the first novels I ever read about black people that weren’t about slavery or civil rights. He was a great storyteller.”

New York Times Best-Selling Author Luvvie Ayayi echoed similar sentiments, adding: “Eric Jerome Dickey was a literary legend. Had a whole generation reading and coming to school the next day like “DID YOU FINISH YET??? We have to talk about it when you do!” Wow. May he rest peacefully.”

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Eric Jerome Dickey’s latest novel, The Son of Mr. Suleman, is set to be released in April. Dickey is survived by his four daughters; “due to COVID-19, there will be no services at this time,” his rep confirmed.

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May his words live on forever. Rest in power, Mr. Dickey.

DISCUSSION

feministonfire
FeministOnFire

Man, him and Terry McMillan and E. Lynn Harris got me BUYING Black books way back in the era of bookstores! It was such a rush to give my money to people writing stories about people like me (and as Roxane said,”NOT about slavery, civil rights or poverty & hardship”)!!! To get to see them at a book signing really meant something!

I’m glad Eric got to enjoy his success for a good while but DAMN, even with money, fame and success, it seems like Black life is so hard that our bodies can’t make it beyond 60 years! WTF?!