Friday, July 24, 2009

E. Lynn Harris

I was shocked and saddened this afternoon to hear of the sudden death of author E. Lynn Harris, whose novels have entertained me over the years.

Mr. Harris is perhaps best known as an author of the black gay experience. Yet, that is not what I remember most about his work.

First, even though tragic events happen - beloved characters die of AIDS, love affairs crash and burn, betrayal and lies abound - the reader finished each book looking upon sunshine, knowing that the ones left living would not only survive, but thrive.

Second, and more important, these novels contained black characters who were educated, affluent, and mobile, who partook of American freedom as their due. They are not victims of poverty and/or racism. When I read Invisible Life, his first novel, I had not seen these kind of people in fiction before.

Of course, Mr. Harris started writing books in the 1990s, and not during the years of the worst racist outrages. Still, they were a relevation to me, and I hope they can be a relevation to you, too. The next time you're in a bookstore or library, stop at "H" in the fiction section for E. Lynn Harris

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