Eric Jerome Dickey, a writer from Memphis whose erotic thrillers, love stories and sagas of domestic crisis and international intrigue made him a popular chronicler of a particularly action-packed rendition of contemporary Black life, has died.

Dickey, 59, died Sunday in Los Angeles, where he lived, "after a long illness," according to Becky Odell, his publicist at Penguin Random House. Born and raised in South Memphis, Dickey was a product of Riverview Elementary School, Riverview Junior High, Carver High and Memphis State University, where he studied computer engineering. Dickey moved to Los Angeles to go after a career as a software developer but soon found himself attracted to the city's entertainment. He started working in stand-up comedy before finding success as a writer, eventually publishing numerous novels.

"His work has become a cultural touchstone over the course of his multi-decade writing career, earning him millions of dedicated readers around the world," Odell said in a statement. 

According to Penguin, more than 7 million copies of Dickey's books have been published worldwide. His 1996 debut as a novelist, "Sister, Sister," was named one of the 50 Most Impactful Black Books of the Last 50 Years by Essence magazine, and USA TODAY included him on its list of "100 Black Novelists and Fiction Writers You Should Read." Dickey’s final novel, "The Son of Mr. Suleman," will be published April 20. Dickey leaves behind four daughters. Because of coronavirus pandemic restrictions, there will be no services at this time.

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