Eric Jerome Dickey, the bestselling novelist who blended crime, romance, and eroticism in Sister, Sister; Waking With Enemies; and dozens of other stories about contemporary Black life, has died at age 59. Dickey's publicist at Penguin Random House told the AP that the author died of cancer Sunday in Los Angeles; she listed four daughters among his survivors. Dickey was an aspiring actor and stand-up comic who began writing fiction in his mid-30s and shaped a witty, conversational, and sometimes graphic prose style. It brought him a wide readership through such novels as Naughty or Nice and through his Gideon crime fiction series. Dickey was a native of Memphis, Tenn., and a computer technology major at the University of Memphis. He moved to Los Angeles after college and eventually set much of his work there.
Dickey worked as a software engineer in the aerospace industry but found himself becoming more interested in the arts. He developed his narrative skills through creative writing classes at UCLA and through reading; favorite authors included Judy Blume. "When I'm writing, I'm always trying to write these twists and turns ... these oh-no-he-didn't or no-she-didn't or no-that-didn't-happen moment where, you know, you want to call your friend and say, 'Are you on Page 40? Get to Page 40,'" he told NPR in 2007. He wrote 29 novels in all; his final book, The Son of Mr. Suleman, comes out in April. "I am truly saddened to hear about the passing of Eric Jerome Dickey," author Roxane Gay tweeted Tuesday. "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." In a follow-up tweet, she recommended these three books of his: Milk in My Coffee, Friends and Lovers, and Sister, Sister.
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