In memoriam: Authors we said good-bye to in 2013

This year saw the passing of a number of notable writers. Below we pay tribute to just some of those who are no longer with us. They'll be missed.

Chinua Achebe


As a boy growing up in Nigeria, Achebe loved books so much that his friends nicknamed him "Dictionary." The beloved Nigerian novelist, poet and professor is regarded as the founding father of African fiction. His groundbreaking first novel, Things Fall Apart, which was published in 1958, has been translated into 50 languages and is still the most widely read book in modern African literature. Achebe died March 21, at the age of 82.

Listen to Eleanor Wachtel's 1994 conversation with Chinua Achebe on Writers & Company in the audio player below.

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Tom Clancy

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Clancy burst onto the spy thriller scene in 1984, with his first novel The Hunt for Red October, featuring CIA analyst Jack Ryan, and never looked back. He went on to write a string of bestsellers, including Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, which were admired for the intricate plots and the authenticity of operational details. A number of his books about Jack Ryan's exploits were adapted for film and became blockbusters in their own right. His fiction also spawned numerous successful video games. The prolific American novelist died Oct. 1, at the age of 66.

Kildare Dobbs


Dobbs was born in India, and spent time in Africa and Ireland before arriving in Canada in 1952. A decade later, he won the Governor General's Award for his first book, Running to Paradise, a memoir that won widespread praise for its satirical wit and keen observation. Over the course of a career that spanned six decades, the acclaimed writer and editor went on to publish more than a dozen books, including travelogues, fiction and poetry, and was awarded the Order of Canada. Dobbs died April 1, at the age of 89.

A.S.A. Harrison


Toronto-born A.S.A. Harrison first made her mark as a performance artist in the world of avant-garde art in the late 1960s, and went on to become a respected editor and non-fiction writer. But fame as a fiction writer came with the publication of her first novel, The Silent Wife, a psychological thriller that came out in June and hit bestseller lists across North America. Sadly, Harrison wasn't around to enjoy her success. She had terminal cancer, and passed away on April 14, at the age of 65. According to visual artist John Massey, Harrison's husband of 30 years, Harrison was a perfectionist when it came to her prose, and she "would have been delighted" with the book's reception.

Click on the audio player below to hear John Massey discuss the success of The Silent Wife on Metro Morning on Aug. 8, 2013.

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Seamus Heaney

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Heaney grew up Catholic in a farming community in Northern Ireland, and this "poet of soil and strife," as the New York Times described him, wrote of life on the land and his country's painful political conflict with eloquence and power. Widely considered Ireland's greatest contemporary poet, he won numerous prestigious awards in the course of his career, including the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1975 and a Lifetime Recognition Award from the Griffin Poetry Trust in 2012. The revered poet died Aug. 30, at the age of 74.

Listen to an interview with Seamus Heaney on As It Happens, which aired on June 8, 2012, in the audio player below.

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Elmore Leonard

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Lauded by Stephen King as "the great American crime writer," Leonard wrote more than 40 bestselling books, and much of his fiction has been adapted for film and television. His signature style combines gritty realism and vivid dialogue. Leonard started out writing Westerns, but is best known for his crime fiction and thrillers, including Get Shorty, Rum Punch and Out of Sight. The F/X TV series Justified is based on Raylan Givens, a character who appears in several of Leonard's books, and the popularity of the program spurred the prolific author to write a new novel, titled Raylan, about him in 2012. Leonard died on Aug. 20, at the age of 87.

Doris Lessing

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Called "one of the great visionary novelists of our time" by J.M. Coetzee, Lessing was one of Britain's most distinguished writers and the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature. She wrote more than 50 books, including The Golden Notebook, her groundbreaking 1962 novel that influenced a generation and is now considered a classic. Lessing died on November 17, at the age of 94.

Listen to Doris Lessing's 2003 interview with Writers & Company in the audio player below.

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Highlights from CBC Books: