Gay black writer E. Lynn Harris dead

Fri Jul 24, 2009 8:23pm EDT
 
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - E. Lynn Harris, whose best-selling novels explored the lives of black men in gay relationships, has died at age 54, his personal assistant said on Friday.

Laura Gilmore said Harris collapsed at a Los Angeles hotel on Thursday and could not be revived. Harris was on a business trip to the city from his home in Atlanta, Gilmore told Reuters.

"We don't know what was the cause," she said.

Harris was born in Michigan and worked as a computer salesman before taking up writing. He self-published his first book, "Invisible Life," in 1991.

After struggling with his sexuality he became one of the pioneers of gay, black fiction. He wrote 11 books, many of them best sellers including "A Love of My Own," "Abide With Me" and the memoir "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted."

His most recent novel, "Basketball Jones," was published in January. Gilmore said he had another book set for release in October.

"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," Alison Rich, publicity director at publisher Doubleday, said in a statement.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Xavier Briand)