Dickey, 59, died Sunday in Los Angeles, where he lived, “after a long illness,” according to Becky Odell, his publicist at Penguin Random House. Penguin is the publisher of many of the author’s best-selling novels, including a recent work with a characteristic title, “Bad Men and Wicked Women,” advertised with the tagline “Affairs of the heart can be lethal!”
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 pursue a career as a software developer but soon found himself attracted to the city’s most famous industry: entertainment. He began working in stand-up comedy before finding success as a writer, eventually publishing 29 novels. More than 15 of them made USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list, including “Friends and Lovers,” “Milk in My Coffee” and “Cheaters.”
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, according to Penguin.