Monday, July 27, 2009

Dishin' it - "E. Lynn Harris"

E. Lynn Harris was a success for the world of literature, the state of Arkansas, and the black LGBT community. Raised, along with three sisters, in Little Rock, Arkansas. He attended Hall High School and attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville where he was the school's first black yearbook editor, the first black male Razorbacks cheerleader, and the president of his fraternity. He graduated with honors with a degree in journalism.

Harris sold computers for IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and AT&T for 13 years while living in Dallas, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta. He later wrote his first novel, Invisible Life, and, failing to find a publisher, he published it himself in 1991 and sold it mostly at black-owned bookstores, beauty salons, and book clubs before he was "discovered" by Anchor Books. Anchor published Invisible Life as a trade paperback in 1994, and thus his career as an author was "officially" launched.
Invisible Life was followed by Just As I Am (1994), And This Too Shall Pass (1996), If This World Were Mine (1997), and Abide With Me (1999), all published by Doubleday. All of Harris's books have been bestsellers; And This Too Shall Pass, If This World Were Mine, Abide With Me, Not A Day Goes By and A Love of My Own were New York Times bestsellers. They also appeared on the bestseller lists of the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, and Los Angeles Times. Harris's sixth novel, Not A Day Goes By (2000) debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list and was a #1 Publishers Weekly bestseller for two consecutive weeks. His seventh novel, Any Way the Wind Blows (2001), also debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list. His most recent novel, which is novel eleven, Basketball Jones (2009), his love letter to the black gay community. Currently, there are over three million copies of Harris's novels in print.

Harris also had and astonishing career working in theater, as professor in education, and even optioned three of his books for film. In 1996, Just As I Am was awarded Blackboard's Novel of the Year prize. In 1997, If This World Were Mine was nominated for a NAACP Image Award and won the James Baldwin Award for Literary Excellence. Abide With Me, Any Way the Wind Blows, and A Love of My Own were also nominated for NAACP Image Awards. In 2002 Any Way the Wind Blows won Harris his second Blackboard Novel of the Year prize, and A Love of My Own was recently named Blackboard Novel of the Year, making Harris the first author to receive back-to-back honors and to receive the prize a record three times. Undeniably, Harris was one of the most gracious and giving individuals in the industry. He easily made himself available mentoring and providing assistance to aspiring writers all over America. The 54 year old Pioneer will greatly be missed and his work shall forever live on. The FUTURE sends our love and prayers to his partner, family, and friends.

Dwight Allen O'Neal

No comments:




Blog Widget by LinkWithin