March 13, 2020
If you were watching the Oscars last month, you saw some new things—like a non-English language film winning Best Picture for the first time ever. Go, Parasite! The ceremony also went host-less for the second year in a row. But there were some things that didn’t change (trying to get winners to wrap up their speeches by starting the orchestra). Then there was the annual tribute to those who passed away in the film industry the previous year—otherwise known as the “In Memoriam” segment. This was then followed by the usual complaints about who didn’t make the list.
Seeing this made me realize that there isn’t a ceremony that honors the authors who pass away every year. In fact, if you miss the news for a couple of days, you might be completely oblivious to the fact that your favorite author is gone. This can be especially true if someone continues to write using the deceased author’s name—a practice that is becoming more common these days.
I decided to take a look at all the authors who passed away in 2019 and was stunned by the number of well-known names. Here are a few:
- Andrea Camilleri (the Inspector Montalbano series)
- Andrew Clements, Children’s author (Frindle, the Jake Drake series, Room One)
- Anne Rivers Siddons (Peachtree Road)
- Dorothea Benton Frank (Sullivan’s Island, Plantation)
- Ernest J. Gaines (A Lesson Before Dying)
- Gene Wolfe, Science Fiction/Fantasy (The Urth of the New Sun)
- Harold Bloom, Literary Criticism
- Herman Wouk, Historical Fiction (The Caine Mutiny, War and Remembrance)
- Jane Haddam, Mystery (the Gregor Demarkian series)
- Johanna Lindsey, Romance (the Mallory Family series)
- Judith Krantz, Romance (Princess Daisy)
- Marion Chesney a.k.a M.C. Beaton, Mystery (the Agatha Raisin series)
- Marjorie W. Sharmat, Children’s (Nate the Great)
- Richard S. Wheeler, Western (Skye’s West series)
- Rosamunde Pilcher, Romance (The Shell Seekers, September)
- Terrance Dicks, Science Fiction (Doctor Who)
- Toni Morrison (Song of Solomon, The Bluest Eye, Beloved)
- Warren Adler (the Fiona Fitzgerald series)
Did you see any who surprised you? The children’s authors hit me the hardest. Not to mention Doctor Who author Terrance Dicks, who provided fans with books of their favorite adventures. As someone who works in a library, I see so many of these names every day on our shelves that it’s shocking to realize how many of them we lost last year. And this year hasn’t started off well either with the loss of two legends—the queen of suspense, Mary Higgins Clark, and thriller author Clive Cussler. Then there is Charles Portis of True Grit fame and science fiction author Mike Resnick.
Authors touch our lives just as much, and in some cases more, than our beloved film stars, so it’s only right to pay tribute to them as well. RIP to them all!
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