Best-selling author E. Lynn Harris has passed away, his publisher, Doubleday, has confirmed. He was on a book tour of the West Coast for his latest novel, “Basketball Jones,” when he died.
The Arkansas Times reported on its Web site that Harris, 54, was found in his hotel room. His personal assistant confirmed his failing health, according to Essence.com, but didn't provide details about the cause of death.
Harris' works centered around black and gay culture as well as athletic topics. He has won numerous awards, including Novel of the Year by the Blackboard African-American Bestsellers Inc. for “Just As I Am” and the Lambda Literary Award for the anthology "Freedom in This Village."
"We at Doubleday are deeply shocked and saddened to learn of E. Lynn Harris’ death at too young an age," Harris' longtime publicist, Alison Rich, a Doubleday spokeswoman, said on behalf of the publisher. “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."
Harris authored 11 novels and a memoir. Ten of his books placed consecutively on The New York Times best-seller list.
Harris was born in Flint, Mich., and was raised in Little Rock, Ark. He sold computers for a living before he quit his sales job and wrote his first novel, "Invisible Life." He published it himself in 1991 and sold it at black-owned book stores, salons and book clubs before being found by Anchor Books, according to his Web site.