The deaths of individuals who have contributed to the 20th and 21st century literary landscapes provide an opportunity: to reflect on lives lived in the service of ideas, stories, and free expression. Here, PW honors the authors, illustrators, and publishing professionals who left us in 2013; their enduring words and works will serve as their epitaphs.
An avid lifelong reader, activist, and publishing industry veteran, Abel enjoyed a career that included positions at the American Booksellers Association, Penguin/Viking, and the University of Chicago Press. In 1975, Abel co-founded the Educational Paperback Association (since renamed the Educational Book and Media Association), serving as the organization’s executive director for 35 years. Abel died on April 5 at age 74.
The Nigerian writer died on March 21 at age 82. Achebe was raised in an Igbo village of Ogidi, where his love of narrative blossomed early. Attending what is now University of Ibadan, Achebe wrote often scalding critiques of such canonized works of literature as Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. His fiction is closely concerned with Nigerian traditions, colonization, and the turbulence of war—particularly relating to the Nigeria-Biafra conflict, and larger questions of identity at the intersection of cultures. As its ubiquity in college courses attests, Things Fall Apart (1958) has become one of the most widely read works of African literature. Among his later works were No Longer At Ease (1960) and Anthills of the Savannah (1987).
Scottish author Banks went by two names: Iain Banks for his contemporary fiction and Iain M. Banks for his SF novels. However, no matter the genre, his style is marked by dark humor and a sense of levity in the face of menacing circumstances. His novels The Bridge (1986) and Excession (1996) were recently selected in a public poll as two of the top 10 Scottish novels of the last 50 years. Banks’s reach is intergalactic: thanks to astronomer José Luis Galache, an asteroid has been named for him; asteroid Iainbanks currently orbits the Main Asteroid Belt of the Solar system. The citation for the asteroid reads: “An evangelical atheist and lover of whisky, he scorned social media and enjoyed writing music. He was an extra in Monty Python & The Holy Grail.” Banks died on June 9 from cancer. He was 59.
Cass Canfield Jr.
Longtime HarperCollins publisher and editor died on July 30 at age 90. Canfield began his 46-year tenure with Harper in 1958 as an assistant to the president; he would go on to serve as publisher of Harper’s Paperbacks, Religious and Medical Books divisions, eventually becoming head of Trade Books. Throughout his career, he worked with Gabriel García Márquez, Craig Claiborne, Louis Fischer, and Mario Vargas Llosa, among many others. Canfield’s father, Cass Sr., also worked in the HarperCollins family, joining Harper & Row in 1924 and eventually becoming president
The Russian-born Carson served as editor-in-chief at Penguin from 1980 until 1998. A genuine lover of books, Carson zealously discovered new authors while also heralding new translations of such works as Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons. He died on January 9 at age 74.
Author of espionage, political, and military thrillers, the prolific Clancy died on October 1 at age 66. Clancy’s first novel, The Hunt For Red October, was published by the Naval Institute Press in 1984 and, with an endorsement from President Ronald Reagan, it became a national bestseller. The novel introduced Clancy’s best-known fictional character, CIA operative Jack Ryan. The Clancy oeuvre represents some of the most widely read fiction, ubiquitous in independent bookstores and airport newsstands alike. Clancy’s scope was far-flung—with settings spanning from the deep sea to the oval office. He was an author with a recondite prose style unequivocally his own.
Known as the L.A. Blues Woman and the unofficial poet laureate of Los Angeles, Coleman’s cache of work expressed both her affection for L.A.’s extremes and her frustrations with social inequity and the despair of indigence. Her collections include: Mercurochrome: New Poems (2001), Native in a Strange Land: Trials & Tremors (1996); Hand Dance (1993); African Sleeping Sickness (1990); A War of Eyes & Other Stories (1988); Heavy Daughter Blues: Poems & Stories 1968–1986 (1988); and Imagoes (1983). She died on November 22 at age 67.
The author of Mrs. Bridge (1959) and Mr. Bridge (1969), about the expectations that come with parenting died on January 10 at age 88. He achieved unexpected fame for a project to which he was deeply devoted—a nonfiction book called Son of the Morning Star, about General George Armstrong Custer. The New York Times referred to it as having “lasting visceral resonance” and “a masterpiece.” The book’s publication in 1984 by North Point Books gave a boost to the small press revolution, demonstrating that a book from a small literary press could find a large audience.
Richard Ben Cramer
The 1979 Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and reporter wrote the massive and scrupulously researched What It Takes: The Way to the White House, a detailed account of the 1988 race for the presidency, which focuses on Michael S. Dukakis, Joseph R. Biden Jr., Gary Hart, Richard A. Gephardt, George Bush, and Bob Dole. Cramer went on to write titles including Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life (2000) and How Israel Lost: The Four Questions (2004). Posthumously, What It Takes has garnered renewed interest as a candid exploration of the campaign circus, which focuses most memorably on the humanity behind political personas. Cramer died on January 7 at age 62.
Janet Anne Haradon Dailey was the author of about 100 romance novels that featured realistic heroines with backbone, relatable American settings, and more than a dollop of sensual escapism—qualities that helped transform and broaden the appeal of the genre. Though Dailey suffered a career setback in the form of plagiarism accusations, she continued writing, mirroring the resilience of her many self-assured female characters. She died on December 14 at age 69.
An eloquent and erudite film critic, Ebert gained a national following as co-host, with Gene Siskel, of the PBS program Sneak Previews, from 1975 to 1982, followed by At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. When Siskel died in 1999, Ebert continued the show, arguing the relative merits and foibles of films with some 30 co-hosts before Richard Roeper was signed to the program in 2000. Ebert, who was the first film critic to be awarded a Pulitzer in 1975, loved his profession; passionate in his convictions, and willing to skewer a movie if he felt it was warranted. Multiple surgeries for thyroid cancer left Ebert unable to speak; however he did not stop reviewing films until the final days of his life. Ebert wrote numerous books of film criticism and a memoir, Life Itself (2011). On his last blog post preceding his death at age 70 on April 4, he wrote: “On this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I’ll see you at the movies.”
Daniel Kenison Everett
Standing at the frontlines of the book business, Everett worked for Lazarus Department Store in Columbus, Ohio, for 30 years. After moving to Connecticut, he was employed at Waldenbooks as a buyer and later for W.H. Smith in New York City. Everett died on August 8 at age 93.
Flynn’s path to becoming an author was a circuitous one. Having been diagnosed with dyslexia, writing books would not seem the most logical endeavor. But after obtaining a degree in economics and being turned down by the Marine Corps for medical reasons, he found his way to his first novel, Term Limits. He initially self-published the book, but quickly secured a deal with S&S/Pocket Books, and the novel was released in 1997. He would go on to write nine books in a series featuring counter-terrorism operative Mitch Rapp. He died on June 19 from prostate cancer. He was 47.
She was committed to aiding readers arriving at their best possible selves, through her books about courage, overcoming darkness, and turning corners. Her inspirational titles included The Dark Side of the Light Chasers (1998) and Why Good People Do Bad Things: How to Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy (2008). She died on February 17 at age 57.
The literary historian was best known for his five-volume biography of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, which took Frank over 30 years to craft. The colossal work was deeply concerned with elements of Dostoyevsky’s private life that mirrored or coincided with social, political, and historical issues of 19th-century Russia. Frank died on February 27 at age 94.
An author, editor, and mentor for those in the children’s publishing field, Frisch died unexpectedly on January 7 at age 37. He wrote more than 150 books, which were published by The Creative Company. His often elegantly cerebral fiction included Dark Fiddler: The Life and Legend of Nicolo Paganini (2008), illustrated by Gary Kelley; A Night on the Range (2010), illustrated by Chris Sheban, and The Lonely Pine (2011), illustrated by Etienne Delessert. Tom Peterson, owner and publisher of The Creative Company, told PW that Frisch “was dedicated to the craft of writing and devoted to his work as an editor—his thoughtfully considered responses and insightful comments enriched the writing and perspectives of all who were fortunate enough to collaborate with him.”
The Italian-born chef and cookbook author was surrounded by cooks when growing up, so never felt the need to learn herself—until she lived in a New York City apartment. Realizing that she had absorbed the flavors and recipes of her childhood through osmosis, Hazan cast aside cookbooks. She opened the School of Classic Italian Cooking in 1969 and published The Classic Italian Cookbook in 1973 and More Classic Italian Cooking in 1978. Her Marcella Cucina won the Julia Child Award for Best International Cookbook in 1997. She died on September 29. She was 89.
The murky skies of Northern Ireland, myth, memory, and ““The Troubles” lie at the core of Heaney’s body of work. The eldest of nine children, Heaney remained emotionally tethered to the peat of his childhood home. Heaney explored the intersection of heritage, labor, and art in such poems as “Digging”: “Through living roots awaken in my head./ But I’ve no spade to follow men like them./ Between my finger and my thumb/ The squat pen rests./ I’ll dig with it.” Heaney was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. He died on August 30 at age 74.
British horror writer Herbert launched his career in 1974 with The Rats, a novel about zombified rodents taking over London; the book sold 100, 000 copies within a span of two weeks and Herbert expanded the concept into a series. His other notable novels include The Fog (1975), about a creeping mist that drives those it touches insane. As with much psychological horror fiction, Herbert searched for the impetus behind primordial human fears, often turning the mirror back upon the reader. He died of unknown causes on March 20. He was 69.
The Finnish poet, author, and translator died on January 29 at age 78. Hollo wrote more than 30 books of poetry and essays. His Notes on the Possibilities and Attractions of Existence: New and Selected Poems 1965–2000 earned the San Francisco Poetry Center’s Book Award in 2001. His poems often peered long into singular moments of being, seeing in them microcosms of passing time, mortality, and the universe.
A children’s book editor who spent three decades as editorial director of Harper & Row, Ignatowicz heralded the success of the I Can Read series. She moved to Clarion Books in 1991 before becoming executive editor at Henry Holt, then editor-at-large. Born in the Ukraine and multilingual, she brought her worldly sensibilities to editing, frequently acquiring international books. She died on January 19 at age 75.
An American comic book artist and editor who contributed significantly to the genre, died at age 87 on April 4. Infantino collaborated with John Broome to expand the Batman cache, redefining the character in 1964. He also introduced numerous original characters to the franchise, including Mirror Master, Gorilla Grodd, and Captain Boomerang. While working at DC Comics, where he became editorial director in the 1960s, Infantio created the original Black Canary in Flash Comics #86 and introduced a new Batgirl in Detective Comics #359 with Gardner Fox, among many other ventures.
A writer and illustrator of children’s books that often incorporated abstract visual experimentation, Jonas has to her credit such books as Round Trip (1983), an ALA Notable Book and a New York Times Best Illustrated Book; The Quilt (1984); Color Dance (1989); Aardvarks, Disembark! (1990), Splash! (1995); and Bird Talk (1999). Jonas said about her work: “If I can stretch a child’s imagination and deal, even if only lightly, with some of a child’s deeper concerns, then I feel that I’ve served him or her as well as I can.” She died on September 29 at age 81.
Robert D. Hale
Hale worked as general manager at Hathaway House Bookshop, part of Wellesley College; there he developed the Hathaway House Author Series before becoming president of the ABA and later associate executive director. While serving at ABA, Hale also helped establish the Center for the Book. He died on October 21 at age 85.
The 22nd Poet Laureate, appointed in 1973, Hoffman was praised by such compatriots as W.H. Auden, who called his first collection, An Armada of Thirty Whales (1954), “a new direction for nature poetry in the post-Wordsworthian world.” Hoffman’s work was filled with quiet observations and penetrating questions that demanded attention but resisted concrete answers. He died on March 30 at age 89.
A journalist, author, and documentarian, Karnow covered the Vietnam War, and his reporting remains some of the most comprehensive and harrowing about that conflict. His time spent on the frontlines resulted in a 750-page chronicle, Vietnam: A History (1983). The book was also adapted into a PBS documentary. Additionally, Karnow wrote Mao and China: From Revolution to Revolution (1972), and he won a Pulitzer in 1990 for In Our Image: America’s Empire in the Philippines. Karnow died on January 27. He was 87.
Decades before Richie and Margo Tenenbaum camped out at the Natural History Museum in New York City, Claudia Kincaid and her brother Jamie ran away to live in hiding at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In Konigsburg’s Newbery-winning The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1968), the siblings survived by fishing the coins from the museum’s fountain, and eventually solved the mystery of an angel sculpture rumored to be a Michelangelo. Konigsburg won a second Newbery for The View from Saturday in 1997. Author Judith Viorst said of her: “E.L. Konigsburg was a transformative figure in children’s literature—one of the world’s all-time greats.” She died on April 19 at age 83.
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Jhabvala, who wrote several novels and screenplays, was born in Germany, and escaped the Nazi regime by moving to London with her family. Jhabvala’s life and work was significantly influenced by her time spent living in India. Her novels included The Householder (1960) and Heat and Dust (for which she won the Booker prize in 1975). She formed a lasting collaboration with Merchant Ivory Productions, adapting her own work to screen as well as crafting screenplays for A Room with a View and Howards End; she won Academy Awards for both. She also adapted Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day for film. Jhabvala died on April 3 at age 85.
The author of westerns and crime novels died on August 20 at age 87. Leonard’s fiction valued dialogue, urgency, and agency over muddling prose. As such, his work naturally lent itself well to screen. Several pieces of his fiction were adapted to film, including Get Shorty (1990) and Rum Punch (1992), upon which the film Jackie Brown was based. The FX television show Justified is drawn from his novels Pronto (1993), Riding the Rap (1995), and his short story “Fire in the Hole.”
McEvilley was an historian, art critic, poet, and novelist, whose books included The Exile’s Return: Toward a Redefinition of Painting for the Post-Modern Era (1993); Sculpture in the Age of Doubt (1999), and The Shape of Ancient Thought (2002). He died on March 2 at age 73.
The Australian children’s book illustrator, who had a keen understanding of what fascinated and delighted young children, died on January 23 at age 67. Her first book, Sunshine (1981), a wordless story about a girl who begins her day as first rays of sunshine pool into her room, won the Mother Goose Award. Ormerod’s style was typified by simple, gestural sequences of images; she also excelled at depicting inquisitive babies in books like 101 Things to Do With a Baby (1984) and The Story of Chicken Licken (1985).
A two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, journalist Lewis gained praise for his coverage of the Supreme Court. For more than 30 years, he wrote a column alternately called “At Home Abroad” or “Abroad at Home” for the New York Times. Among his books were Gideon’s Trumpet, about the 1963 court case Gideon v. Wainwright; and Make No Law (1991), which was about the 1964 New York Times v. Sullivan court case. His writing offered illuminating commentary on often labyrinthine matters of the court. He died on March 25 at age 85.
Lessing was an artist who defied categorization and consistently reached for new and startling forms of storytelling. Following a tumultuous childhood spent in (then) Persia and what is now Zimbabwe, Lessing emerged as a largely self-educated woman. Her books embraced modernism organically rather than prescriptively and were unafraid to dip into genre conventions, with vibrant results. Her books were concerned with politics and feminism, but spoke to a larger, more personal sense of rebellion. Among her works were The Golden Notebook (1963) and The Fifth Child (1988). Lessing wrote 50 novels and won the 2007 Nobel Prize in literature. She died on November 17 at age 94.
The author of horror, sci-fi, and speculative fiction died on June 23 at age 87. A number of Matheson’s novels and short stories were adapted to film, including I Am Legend (1954), What Dreams May Come (1978), and A Stir of Echoes (1958). Matheson’s style was dexterous, shifting from satirical to ponderous, and his literary reach was vast, stemming post-apocalyptic scenarios, journeys to the afterlife, haunted houses, and many liminal spaces in between.
Fredrick L. McKissack
McKissack collaborated with his wife Patricia on more than 100 children’s books, many of which focus on African-American themes. The two wrote the Great African Americans series, with volumes on Frederick Douglass, Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, and others. In 1990, the husband-and-wife team won the Coretta Scott King Author Award numerous times for their books: A Long Hard Journey: The Story of the Pullman Porter (1990), Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters (1995), and Rebels Against Slavery: American Slave Revolts (1997), among others. He died at age 73 on April 28
Murray was a jazz and literary critic, novelist, and biographer, who stood at the frontlines of the fight for black civil rights, along with fellow black writers and intellectuals, James Baldwin, Richard Wright, and Ralph Ellison. Murray’s work also fiercely challenged notions of black identity; he believed in cultural integration rather than stark pronouncements of difference. Among his most significant works are the memoir, South to a Very Old Place (1971); the essay collection Stomping the Blues (1976); and several autobiographical novels, beginning with Train Whistle Guitar (1974). Murray died on August 18 at age 97.
Palmer, a doctor, authored 19 medical thrillers. They have been translated into 35 languages and have sold about five million copies internationally. Palmer began writing while in the midst of recovering from alcohol and prescription drug addiction. On his discovery of writing fiction, Palmer said, “I loved the feeling of being in control when my life was not.” His books include Extreme Measures (1991) and Natural Causes (1994). He died on October 30 at age 71.
The author of the Junie B. Jones series, about a quirky, trouble-making grade school girl with a phobia of roosters, horses (“they can stomple you to the ground and kill you”) and clowns (“they are not normal people”), died on November 15 at age 66. Junie’s tendency to get into trouble and her tentative grasp on grammar make her an especially sympathetic guide to the pitfalls of elementary school. Park’s other books include The Kid in the Red Jacket (1988) and Mick Harte Was Here, 1995). At heart a humorist, Park told PW in an interview: “For 20 years I’ve gotten to laugh my way through my work. For me, that’s a dream job.”
A Brooklyn native, Perl came to write children’s fiction and nonfiction while raising her children, explaining that “I had a great need to explore the long-silent world of my own childhood.” Her books for young readers include the Fat Glenda series and Behind Barbed Wire: The Story of Japanese Internment During World War II (2002). She also addressed contemporary political and social issues through her nonfiction for adults. The breadth of Perl’s subject matter—from junk food to mummies to terrorism—reflected her love of reading, travel, and her deeply inquisitive nature. Lizzie Skurnick, who edited Perl’s most recent books, commented: “She was a wonderful, smart lady—great to talk to—and an inspiration for writing widely, humorously, and with great verve.” Perl died on December 4; she was 92.
Ray was a prolific author of character-driven romance novels that garnered a significant fan-base. The winner of numerous honors, Ray’s novels orbited around sexually empowered women balancing their personal and professional lives, and gaining renewed strength after circumstances have left them broken. She died on July 3 at age 69.
Among the most emotionally candid moments in children’s literature occurs in Robinson’s The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (1971), in which an indigent band of siblings hijack a church’s annual Christmas pageant. It’s when Imogene Herdman—perhaps the nastiest, grimiest, and most uncultured child ever to play Mary in a production of the nativity story—finds tears streaming uncontrollably down her cheeks as she cradles the baby Jesus. More than a Christmas parable, Robinson story is about discovering a wealth of humanity where one least expects to find it. In addition to two sequels to The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, she also wrote My Brother Louis Measures Worms and Other Louis Stories (1990). Robinson died from cancer on July 9. She was 85.
Rogers was an Australian illustrator and children’s book author. His titles include a wordless picture book trilogy, beginning with The Boy, the Bear, the Baron, the Bard (2004), in which an adventurous boy is transported to Shakespeare’s London. In the third of the series, The Hero of Little Street (2009), the same boy escapes bullies by stealing away to London’s National Gallery, where he steps into a Vermeer painting. Rogers was an avid lover of music, playing multiple early instruments from the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque eras. Rogers died on May 1 from stomach cancer. He was 55.
The publisher of academic books ran Basic Books in the 1950s and ’60s, before heading Harvard University Press for the next two decades. Expanding the offerings of the publishing house, the fabulously diverse array of books Rosenthal fostered included E.O. Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize–winning On Human Nature (1978), Jane Goodall’s Chimpanzees of Gombe (1986), and Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings (1984). Rosenthal died on July 6 at age 93.
Schiffrin had books in his blood. The son of Jacques Schiffrin, who founded the French publishing house of La Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, the dedicated bibliophile worked at Random/Pantheon for nearly 30 years. During his tenure, he published such notable European authors as Günter Grass, Michel Foucault, and Simone de Beauvoir. In 1990, Schiffrin was fired for his business philosophy, which ran in sharp opposition to that of Random House CEO Alberto Vitale. The controversial firing led to a swift and auspicious venture—the creation of the New Press. Schiffrin remained instrumental in operating the nonprofit publishing house until 2003. The New Press celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2012. Schiffrin died of pancreatic cancer on December 1 in Paris. He was 78.
Shear was a book publisher for more than 35 years, serving as publicity manager at the New American Library beginning in 1977. He went on to work at St. Martin’s in 1995, taking on the roles of executive v-p and publisher of the company, where he remained until his death. Among the authors Shear published while at St. Martin’s were Augusten Burroughs and Doris Kearns Goodwin. Colleagues of Shear remember him for his jovial nature and faith in the books that he heralded. He died from lung cancer on August 28. He was 57.
An author, political cartoonist, and illustrator of children’s books, died on July 13 at age 97. Simont was born in Paris to Catalan parents, and the family moved to New York City when he was around 11 years old. An ardent sketcher from early on, he developed a versatile, spry, and approachable style marked by loose lines and color-bathed coziness. Some of his best known works for children were The Philharmonic Gets Dressed (1982) and The Stray Dog (2001), which won the Caldecott. He also collaborated with such notable fellow literati as James Thurber—Simont illustrated Thurber’s novella The 13 Clocks (1950) and The Wonderful O (1957). He was also shared a Greenwich Village apartment with Robert McCloskey in the late 1930s, where a flock of ducks—the inspiration for McCloskey’s (1941) Make Way For Ducklings—temporarily resided in their bathtub.
Serving as the art director of the New York Times’s op-ed page, Suares dramatically altered the editorial presentation and range by providing artists the freedom to visually represent an entire article, rather than specific, small sections. Throughout his career, Suares reached out to artists and political cartoonists from around the globe. He worked alongside Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis at Doubleday, where he designed Michael Jackson’s autobiography, Moonwalk. Suares also teamed with Seymour Chwast for The Illustrated Cat: A Poster Book (1976), which led to a series of feline-themed books. Suares died on July 30 at age 71.
Tenenbaum took her passion for gardening and built a flourishing career out of it. In 1974, she became a nonfiction acquisitions editor at Houghton Mifflin, where she worked for 25 years. Among her early acquisitions was Richard Raske’s The Killing of Karen Silkwood (1984). When she saw a niche in the American book market, she became Houghton’s gardening books editor. Tenenbaum also wrote her own books on the subject, including Nothing Grows for You? A Brown-Thumb’s Guide to Growing House Plants (1974) and Gardening at the Shore (2006). Tenenbaum was fondly regarded for her tenacity, wit, and hospitality, frequently holding gatherings at her home in Martha’s Vineyard. She died on September 24 at age 94.
Though Vance primarily published his fantasy, sci-fi, and mystery fiction under his given name, he also went by several aliases, including Ellery Queen, Alan Wade, Peter Held, John van See, and Jay Kavanse. Several of Vance’s books involve humanity’s colonization of space, specifically a region known as the Gaean Reach. Boating and music were two of Vance’s other passions. He was close friends with fellow authors Frank Herbert and Poul Anderson; the three shared a houseboat that they used to traverse the Sacramento Delta. He died on May 26 at age 96.
Vizzini was the author of the semi-autobiographical young adult book It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2006), about a high school student whose life is derailed after a suicide attempt and a stint at a psychiatric hospital. Vizzini’s most recent endeavors included a collaboration with film director Chris Columbus on the House of Secrets middle grade series, the second of which is due out in March. Although Vizzini seemed at a propitious point in his career, writing for the upcoming sci-fi series Believe, created by J.J. Abrams and Alfonso Cuarón, he committed suicide on December 19 at age 32.
The creator of the classic children’s book character Lyle, Lyle Crocodile, about a family that moves into a Victorian home, only to find that the lovable yet cumbersome reptile is living in the bathtub, died on May 16 at age 91. Waber’s other works also centered around anthropomorphic animals, including Do You See a Mouse? (1995) and An Anteater Named Arthur (1967).
Wolkstein was as much oral storyteller and performer as an author, weaving folklore, mythology, and fantasy threads into her written and spoken work. Beginning in 1967, Wolkstein served as New York City’s official storyteller for five years, delivering tales to audiences in area-wide parks five days a week. Wolkstein also published 24 books for children, including The Magic Orange Tree: and Other Haitian Folktales (1997) and Esther’s Story (1995). An inquisitive world traveler until her final days, Wolkstein died in Taiwan on January 31 following emergency heart surgery. She was 70.
Peter Workman, founder of Workman Publishing, the company that has heralded such familiar titles as The Official Preppy Handbook (1980), What to Expect When You’re Expecting (1984), and hundreds of other utilitarian, novelty, advice, and children’s books, died on April 7 from cancer. He was 74. After working at a bookstore and as a newspaper copywriter, Workman joined Dell in the sales department. He launched the publishing house in 1967. Beyond books, Workman was a fervent supporter of humanitarian organizations and a lover of music and the visual arts.
Sol Yurick was best known for his 1965 novel The Warriors, a reworking of Xenophon’s Anabasis story that is set in New York City and centers on urban gang warfare. The book was adapted to film in 1979, and since has evolved into somewhat of a cult classic and a relic of a more lawless period in New York City’s past. He wrote numerous other novels, however, such as Fertig (1966), The Bag (1968), and the short story collection, Someone Just Like You (1972). Yurick’s work offered blistering social commentary, deeply concerned with power structures, class, and individuals who are blind to the circumstances that have led to their captivity. Yurick died on January 6 at age 87.
Zolotow was the author of more than 70 books for young readers, including Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present (1962), illustrated by Maurice Sendak; My Grandson Lew (1974), illustrated by William Pène du Bois, and William’s Doll (1972), also illustrated by du Bois. Zolotow’s books dealt unflinchingly with powerful childhood fears and emotions. As an editor at Harper & Row, Zolotow also sought out titles that addressed sobering topics typically left out of children’s literature, such as M.E. Kerr’s Night Kites (1986), which addresses AIDS. Other works she heralded were Sarah, Plain and Tall (1985) by Patricia MacLachlan, which won a Newbery Medal, and Paul Zindel’s The Pigman (1968). Zolotow, whose daughter, Crescent Dragonwagon is also a children’s book author, died on November 19 at age 98.