Bestselling author E. Lynn Harris died earlier today while on a book tour in Los Angeles promoting his 11th novel, Basketball Jones. He was 54. Stuart Applebaum of Random House said that to his knowledge, the cause of Harris's death is unknown. Essence.com reported that Harris’s personal assistant confirmed that Harris's health had recently declined.
Harris, who was published by Random House’s Anchor, Bantam and Doubleday imprints, was known for writing about gay, black culture. He was the author of Just As I Am, Too Good to Be True, Abide with Me and other novels, and of the 2004 memoir What Becomes of the Brokenhearted. He placed 10 consecutive books on the New York Times bestseller list. There are over four million copies of his books in print. Most recently, the Detroit native served as a visiting professor for the English department at the University of Arkansas.
Harris's longtime publicist, Alison Rich, v-p executive director of publicity at Doubleday, said, "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."