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New York Times bestselling author Eric Jerome Dickey passed away on Dec. 3, 2020, at the age of 59, after a lengthy illness his publicist confirmed (h/t Essence).

Dickey’s novels, including Sister, Sister; Friends & Lovers; and Milk in My Coffee, captured the nuances of Black love, family, life, and sexuality. His books also encouraged many to begin reading for pleasure.

The Memphis native began writing in 1989 and his debut novel, Sister, Sister, was published in 1996. At the time, he had been a software engineer turned substitute teacher. He also moved to Los Angeles to work as an actor and comedian, who wrote his own material, after leaving the engineering field. His last novel, The Son of Mr. Suleman, will be released in April 2021.

After news of Dickey’s death last month broke early this week, many fans of his writing took to Twitter to express their dismay.