Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  E. Lynn Harris  

Pen Name: None


Born: 1955 in Flint, Michigan


Illinois Connection

Harris lived in Chicago. His book,

And This Too Shall Pass, was set in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

E. Lynn Harris was an American author who rose from self-publishing to best-selling status. He was best known as a pioneer of gay black fiction. He authored ten consecutive books to make The New York Times Best Seller list. After graduating with honors from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1977, Harris went to work as a sales executive for IBM. Five years later, he quit his job as a computer salesman and used $25,000 of his own money to print Invisible Life. It was published as a Doubleday paperback in 1994 and quickly soared to number one on the Blackboard Bestseller List of African American titles.Harris also edited two books, Freedom in the Village: Twenty-five years of Black, Gay Men's Writing in 2004 and Gumbo: A Celebration of African American Writers with Marita Golden in 2002. He founded the E. Lynn Harris Better Days Foundation, a nonprofit company that provides support to aspiring writers and artists.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Invisible Life
ISBN: 0786250550

Thorndike Press. 2003

Book by E. Lynn Harris

Just As I Am
ISBN: 0786250542

G K Hall & Co. 2003

E. Lynn Harris's blend of rich, romantic

storytelling and controversial contemporary issues like

race and bisexuality have found an enthusiastic and

diverse audience across America. Readers celebrate

the arrival in paperback of his second novel,

Just As I Am, which picks up where

Invisible Life left off,

introducing Harris's appealing and authentic characters to a

new set of joys, conflicts, and choices. Raymond,

a young black lawyer from the South, struggles to

come to terms with his sexuality and with the grim

reality of AIDS. Nicole, an aspiring

singer/actress, experiences frustration in both her career and

in her attempts to find a genuine love

relationship. Both characters share an eclectic group of

friends who challenge them, and the reader, to look at

themselves and the world around thern through

different eyes. By portraying Nicole's and Raymond's

joys, as well as their pain, Harris never ceases to

remind us that life, like love, is about

self-acceptance. In this vivid portrait of contemporary

black life, with all its pressures and the

complications of bisexuality, AIDS, and racism, Harris

confirms a faith in the power of love -- love of all

kinds -- to thrill and to heal, which will warm the

hearts of readers everywhere.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

And This Too Shall Pass
ISBN: 0786263636

Thorndike Press. 2004

A New York Times Bestselling Author

In the locker rooms and newsrooms of Chicago, four lives intersect in romance and scandal. At the heart of the story is a rookie quarterback for the Chicago Cougars whose trajectory for superstardom is interrupted by a sexual assault charge made by a sportscaster with her own sights on fame.

If This World Were Mine
ISBN: 0786258950

Thorndike Press. 2003

A New York Times Bestseller

E. Lynn Harris's fourth book is an "engrossing and fast-paced" (Entertainment Weekly) novel about four friends whose deep bonds of intimacy are threatened by conflicts of career and romance . . . until one of them faces death.

Abide With Me
ISBN: 0786250623

Thorndike Pr. 2003

Dare to dream--

Since the publication of E. Lynn Harris's stunning debut novel, Invisible Life, millions of readers have laughed, cried, and anguished along with his unforgettable cast of characters.

Now, his growing legions of fans will finally find out what happens in this delicious conclusion to the "Invisible Life" trilogy.

In Abide with Me, Harris returns with the utmost finesse to his signature themes of love, friendship, and family, and craftily guides his irresistible characters through new challenges and heartbreaks, and ultimately to redemption through love.

At the end of Just As I Am, Raymond Tyler, Jr., was beginning a relationship with Trent, a fraternity brother from his college days, while Nicole had found love with Jared, Raymond's buddy from Atlanta.

As Abide with Me opens, Raymond and Trent are settled in Seattle, where Trent's career as an architect has blossomed and Raymond's law practice is booming.

All seems well.

Then, late one night, Raymond gets a call from a United States Senator that threatens everything he's built.

Raymond, facing a crisis of faith, travels to New York hoping for the support of his best friend, Jared, who's moved North after five years in Atlanta.

His wife, Nicole, is performing in a revival of Dreamgirls, her lifelong fantasy at last coming true.

Nicole is thrilled to return to the stage, but when things start to go wrong, her young and beautiful understudy, Yancey Harrington Braxton, steps into the spotlight a little too smoothly.

And Nicole, far from achieving her dream, is suddenly forced to reevaluate her life and her marriage.

Back, too, are the other beloved inhabitants of Harris's world: Raymond's family

the sexy and dangerous gray-eyed sportscaster and ex-football player, John Basil Henderson

and Peaches, the spirited owner of the Harlem shop Cuts 'n' Cobblers and the mother of Raymond's late friend Kyle.

In Abide with Me, Harris once again encourages his readers to live, love, and dream.

His masterful storytelling, wit, and sensitivity permeate this enormously satisfying novel, which is both a tribute to his loyal following and an invitation to a new audience to enter his irresistible world.

His "unique spin on the ever-fascinating topics of identity, class, intimacy, sexuality, and friendship" (Vibe) will once more put E. Lynn Harris at the top of the bestseller lists.

Not a Day Goes By: A Novel

Anchor. 2007

John “Basil” Henderson has always played the field, both as a professional football player and as an equal opportunity lover. After retiring his jersey for a career as a sports agent, the dashing playboy is surprising everyone—including himself—by deciding to settle down and commit to his new love, Yancey Harrington Braxton. A fiercely driven Broadway star on the rise, blessed with beauty, charm, and a fondness for the finer things in life, she appears to be his ideal mate. A lavish wedding is planned, but just before the nuptials, fate and a little comeuppance threaten the happy couple’s future.

Charged with narrative exuberance and sumptuous detail, Not a Day Goes By proves that nobody spins a sexy urban love story like E. Lynn Harris.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Any Way the Wind Blows
ISBN: 078625792X

Thorndike Press. 2003

Any Way the Wind Blows

Love of My Own
ISBN: 140007553X


What Becomes of the Brokenhearted: A Memoir
ISBN: 0385495064

Anchor. 2004

“In many ways writing saved my life. It’s my hope that sharing my experience will give hope to others who are learning to deal with their “difference.” I want them to know they don’t have to live their lives in a permanent “don’t ask, don’t tell” existence. Truth is a powerful tool.
“But my hope for this book doesn’t stop there. I think there is a message here for anyone who has ever suffered from a lack of self-esteem, felt the pain of loneliness, or sought love in all the wrong places. The lessons I have learned are not limited to race, gender, or sexual orientation. Anyone can learn from my journey. Anyone can overcome a broken heart.”--E. Lynn Harris

No One in the World: A Novel
ISBN: 1439178097

Simon & Schuster. 2011

E. Lynn Harris and RM Johnson— two powerful voices of a generation—unite with an insightful and emotional project that tackles themes of family, loyalty and identity.

The untimely passing of the beloved New York Times bestselling author E. Lynn Harris has left fans pining for more. With this collaboration, fans are given the book they’ve been clamoring to read—and the book that Harris and Essence bestselling author RM Johnson long wanted to write.

Cobi Winslow, a handsome, well-educated district attorney, knows nothing about the life of his estranged twin brother, Eric Reed, a career criminal raised in the foster care system. Following their parents’ death, Cobi searches for and finds his brother, hoping to regain lost years.

Meanwhile, Cobi navigates the pressures of society as he lives life in the closet. The stress comes to a head when he learns that in order to inherit the wealth of his father’s estate and save the struggling family business, he must marry a woman before he turns thirty-five. The task becomes more convoluted when Cobi’s sister proposes to pay Austen Greer, a once-successful and wealthy businesswoman who lost everything in the recession, to be Cobi’s wife.

Eric discovers Cobi is gay and promises to keep it a secret. Instead, he entrusts the information to his former prison cellmate, Blac, who endears himself to Cobi in hopes of securing a $150,000 loan from him to pay back a debt racked up by cocaine sales. As the clock runs down both on Blac’s efforts to pay his deadly creditor and on Cobi’s attempts to save the family company, rash moves are executed, family and friendship bonds are tested, and life-altering sacrifices are made.


-- Body of Work:

Novel of the Year prize

Blackboard African-American Bestsellers, Inc.

NAACP Image Award nominee, 1997

SBC Magazine Brother of the Year in literature

Harlem Y. Mentor Award

BMAD Angel AwardJust As I Am

Blackboard's Novel of the Year AwardIf This World Were Mine

James Baldwin Award for Literary ExcellenceAny Way the Wind Blows

Blackboard's Novel of the Year AwardA Love Of My Own

Blackboard's Novel of the Year AwardWhat Becomes of the Broken Hearted

Lambda Builder Award, 2004Freedom in This Village

Lambda Anthologies Award, 2005