Eric Jerome Dickey, the prolific New York Times best-selling author, died in Los Angeles on Sunday night, January 3. Vulture reports that Dickey’s publicist confirmed his death, which transpired “after battling a long illness.” He was 59.
Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Dickey originally moved to Los Angeles in order to pursue a career in engineering. While working as a software developer for Rockwell International, he discovered a new passion: performance. He pivoted to acting and stand-up comedy, writing scripts for his local acts. His developing interest in writing short stories came soon after, which led to some of his early work getting published in anthologies and magazines. His first screenplay, “Cappuccino” appeared in local coffeeshops before debuting at the Pan-African Film Festival in 1998.
Dickey’s debut novel—Sister, Sister—was published in 1996. What followed was a career that included over 30 novels, novellas, and short stories that struck a particularly loving chord with the Black community and portrayed different shades of modern love, family, friendship, and intrigue. Most of his work made the New York Times list and was often included on recommended reading lists across multiple publications, including Essence, LA Times, and the Wall Street Journal. He even dabbled in comics, penning the six-issue Marvel miniseries Storm which reimagined the first meeting between Ororo Munroe and T’challa, or Black Panther. Two of his books, Friends And Lovers and Cheaters, were adapted into touring stage plays. The Son of Mr. Suleman, Dickey’s latest novel, is currently slated to be released this April.
Unafraid to cater specifically to his community, Dickey had a penchant for shaping characters that both resonated and generously leaned into Black culture. His stories often balanced romance, scandal, and a considerable amount of heart, and they were beloved by a fanbase that felt both seen and wholly embraced. Dickey is survived by four daughters.