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