In Memoriam: 12 Authors We Lost Too Soon in 2016

In 2016, we said good-bye to many literary luminaries. These authors have inspired us, challenged us to think deeply, and opened windows into the lives and struggles of others. Here we remember some of the award winners, trailblazers, and creators of beloved classics whose works will stand the test of time.

The Name of the Rose
by Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco’s watershed first novel has been translated into 30 languages and sold more than 10 million copies. Franciscans in an Italian abbey in 1327 are suspected of heresy, so Brother William arrives to investigate. When 7 bizarre deaths occur, he collects evidence, deciphers coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey.

Geek Love
by Katherine Dunn

Katherine Dunn’s third novel, GEEK LOVE, was a National Book Award finalist that sold hundreds of thousands of copies. This wild novel centers on carnies Al and Crystal Lil, who use drugs to mutate their unborn children to breed their own carnival freak-show act. As they take their act across the backwaters of the U.S., their experiences shed light on our notions of the freakish and the normal, the beautiful and the ugly.

The Prince of Tides
by Pat Conroy

Pat Conroy’s classic novel THE PRINCE OF TIDES stings with honesty and resounds with drama. Spanning 40 years, it’s the story of turbulent Tom Wingo, his gifted and troubled twin sister, Savannah, and their struggle to triumph over the dark and tragic legacy of the extraordinary family into which they were born.

The Women of Brewster Place
by Gloria Naylor

Gloria Naylor’s debut novel, which won the American Book Award and the National Book Award for first novel, tells the overlapping stories of 7 women living in Brewster Place, a bleak inner-city sanctuary. THE WOMEN OF BREWSTER PLACE is a powerful, moving portrait of the strengths, struggles, and hopes of black women in America.

Llama Llama Red Pajama
by Anna Dewdney

LLAMA LLAMA RED PAJAMA, which launched Anna Dewdney’s 10-book Llama Llama series, is a beloved rhyming picture book about a spirited toddler-esque llama’s struggle to go to sleep at bedtime.

Elbow Room
by James Alan McPherson

James Alan McPherson became the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his short-story collection, ELBOW ROOM. With stories that pierce through the self-deception of a failed preacher, challenge the audacity of a killer, and explode the jealousy of two lovers, this collection of honest, masterful fiction is an array of haunting images and memorable characters.

Legends of the Fall
by Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison was a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and a nature and food writer, but is perhaps best known for this collection of 3 novellas. The titular novella, LEGENDS OF THE FALL, is an epic, moving tale of 3 brothers fighting for justice from the raw landscape of early 20th-century Montana to the blood-drenched European battlefields of World War I.

Tuck Everlasting
by Natalie Babbitt

Many of us remember Natalie Babbitt’s books fondly from our childhoods, especially TUCK EVERLASTING, which tells the story of 11-year-old Winnie, who meets the Tucks, a family who has become immortal by drinking water from an enchanted spring. When the secret spring is threatened with exposure, Winnie must grapple with the true meaning of life and death.

To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize.

Night
by Elie Wiesel

Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel has written several dozen moving and powerful books. Arguably his masterpiece, NIGHT is a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. It eloquently addresses philosophical as well as personal questions about the Holocaust.

The Story of Lucy Gault
by William Trevor

William Trevor was a master fiction writer, equally lauded for his novels and short-story collections. We especially recommend this moving novel about guilt, love, and forgiveness. When violence forces her family to prepare to leave 1920s Ireland, young Lucy runs away, setting off a series of events that will affect all of the town’s inhabitants.

I Know What You Did Last Summer
by Lois Duncan

Lois Duncan is widely regarded as the master of teen suspense. This novel, which became a successful film franchise, centers on four teens who make a terrible mistake and decide to cover it up. A year later they receive the titular message and must outsmart a killer...or they will be the next to die.