E. Lynn Harris


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LOS ANGELES (AP) -

E. Lynn Harris, a pioneer of gay black fiction and a literary entrepreneur who rose from self-publishing to best-selling status, died Thursday. He was 54.

Harris died after being stricken at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, said publicist Laura Gilmore. A cause of death had not been determined.

She said Harris, who lived in Atlanta, fell ill on a train to Los Angeles a few days ago and blacked out for a few minutes, but seemed fine after that.

An improbable and inspirational success story, Harris worked for a decade as an IBM executive before taking up writing, selling the novel "Invisible Life'' from his car as he visited salons and beauty parlors around Atlanta. He had unprecedented success for an openly gay black author and his strength as a romance writer led some to call him the "male Terry McMillan.''

He went on to mainstream success with works such as the novel "Love of My Own'' and the memoir "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.'' The last book Harris published, "Basketball Jones," focused on a hidden relationship between a successful business professional in New Orleans and an NBA star.

Altogether, Harris published 11 novels, 10 of which were on The New York Times best-seller list. There are over 4 million copies of his books in print, according to his publisher, Doubleday.

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