In Memoriam: Authors Who Passed Away in 2022
Award shows often take a solemn moment during their telecasts for a video tribute “in memoriam” to those of their colleagues who have died in the previous year. It’s an opportunity to remember contributors to their industry who may have given delight years ago – “I didn’t even know they were still alive…”– or who have sadly passed away before their time –“so young…” – both stirring our emotions for different reasons.
In that spirit, it seems worth remembering and celebrating some of the authors who died in 2022, leaving behind cherished and memorable works for us to read and enjoy. Many brilliant, controversial, talented and otherwise notable writers have passed this year. For this blog, I focus on authors known first and best for their writing – like Hilary Mantel – rather than, say, for their acting or advocacy or other activities that led them to write – like Sidney Poitier.
No doubt I may have left off personal favourites, but here are some of the many notable authors who passed away this year. For a more extensive list, Goodreads tracks an annual list of authors who have died per year.
Roger Angell (1920–2022)
“Getting old is the second-biggest surprise of my life, but the first, by a mile, is our unceasing need for deep attachment and intimate love.”
—This Old Man by Roger Angell
Regarded by many as baseball’s finest chronicler, Roger Angell always wrote about the game with fresh eyes, noting its changes with an interested, appreciative, and critical eye. He never wrote as a “sports reporter,” but as a writer who happened to love baseball and wrote about it with love and humour for over 60 years for The New Yorker magazine and later collected into a number of memorable books. In his later years, he also wrote with great feeling and warmth about aging and memory. He was inducted into the writers' wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.
Raymond Briggs (1934–2022)
"I don't believe in happy endings. Children have got to face death sooner or later. Granny and Grandpa die, dogs die, cats die, gerbils die and those frightful things—what are they called?—hamsters all die like flies. So there's no point avoiding it."
— "Raymond Briggs: I don't believe in happy endings" by Benjamin Secher from The Telegraph.
Raymond Briggs was an English illustrator, cartoonist, graphic novelist and author. He wrote and illustrated many children’s classics, including the grumpy Father Christmas series, as well as the beautiful and brilliantly wordless The Snowman. As one observer noted, he changed the face of children's picture books. He also published a number of graphic books for adults that always seemed to champion the underdog.
Barbara Ehrenreich (1941–2022)
“You can think of death bitterly or with resignation, as a tragic interruption of your life, and take every possible measure to postpone it. Or, more realistically, you can think of life as an interruption of an eternity of personal nonexistence, and seize it as a brief opportunity to observe and interact with the living, ever-surprising world around us.”
A powerful voice for the poor and disenfranchised, the New York Times called Barbara Ehrenreich an "explorer of prosperity's dark side.” Although she published over 20 books, Ehrenreich was best known for her 2001 book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, a memoir of her three-month experiment surviving on a series of minimum wage jobs. She published widely as a freelance journalist, focusing her efforts on social justice issues affecting women, people of colour and the poor.
Brian Fawcett (1944–2022)
"Life is morally and physically a mess and ... the future is utterly incomprehensible. Thus, true happiness lies in the ability to live with ambiguity.”
— Human Happiness by Brian Fawcett
Brian Fawcett was a Canadian writer and cultural analyst. He wrote often of his hometown, Prince George, BC, including The Last of the Lumbermen, about small-town hockey in the 50s and 60s, and Virtual Clearcut, or The Way Things Are in My Hometown, for which he won the Pearson Writer's Trust Non-Fiction Prize in 2003. His critically acclaimed 1986 book Cambodia: A Book for People Who Find Television Too Slow examines both the atrocities in Khmer Rouge Cambodia and how they were reported on. In his examination of the media, Fawcett anticipated the rise of globalization and its impact on culture. Through much of the 90s, he was a cultural critic for the Globe and Mail and memorably a vigorous advocate for local communities, including his spirited efforts to preserve Toronto literary café Dooney’s.
Dame Hilary Mary Mantel (1952–2022)
“When you are writing laws you are testing words to find their utmost power. Like spells, they have to make things happen in the real world, and like spells, they only work if people believe in them.”
―Wolf Hall by Dame Hilary Mary Mantel
Dame Hilary Mary Mantel was a British writer best known for her masterpiece, the Thomas Cromwell trilogy about his rise to power at the court of Henry VIII: Wolf Hall (won the Booker Prize in 2009), Bring Up the Bodies (won the Booker Prize in 2012), and The Mirror and the Light. She wrote 12 novels, two collections of short stories, a personal memoir, and numerous articles and opinion pieces.
Javier Marías (1951–2022)
“Life is a very bad novelist. It is chaotic and ludicrous.”
—"Javier Marías, The Art of Fiction 190" by Sarah Fay from The Paris Review
Javier Marias, probably Spain’s greatest contemporary novelist, wrote works that delved in the world of secrets and betrayal, including A Heart So White and Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me as well as collections of short stories and essays. His books have been translated into 46 languages. He received several awards for his work, such as the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (1997) and the International Nonino Prize (2011).
David Gaub McCullough (1933–2022)
“Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That's why it's so hard."
David G. McCullough was an American popular historian and two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Truman and John Adams, both adapted for the screen, among his many works. In 2006, he was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States highest civilian award.
Patrick Jake O'Rourke (1947–2022)
“Examining my musty work I see evidence that I was once younger than anyone ever has been. And on drugs. At least I hope I was on drugs. I’d hate to think that these were my sober and well-considered thoughts.”
— Thrown Under the Omnibus: A Reader by Patrick Jake O'Rourke
Patrick Jake O'Rourke was an American libertarian political satirist in the tradition of H. L. Mencken, criticizing whatever in government or culture he thought needed it. He authored more than 20 books as well as countless columns for a variety of publications. The best-known of his books is Holidays in Hell, about his visits to war zones as a foreign correspondent.
Peter Francis Straub (1943–2022)
“I like [the horror genre’s] acknowledgment that life is a dodgy and uncertain business, and a monster with a smiling face may live or work right next door to you.”
— "Peter Straub and the Horror that Bartleby Wrought" by Lenny Picker from Publishers Weekly
Peter Francis Straub was an American “literary writer with a poetic sensibility,” who wrote about fantastic things. He wrote numerous horror and supernatural fiction novels, including Julia and Ghost Story, as well as The Talisman, which he co-wrote with Stephen King. Straub received such literary honours as the Bram Stoker Award, World Fantasy Award and International Horror Guild Award.
- Nicholas Evans
- Steven Heighton
- Jack Higgins
- Shirley Hughes
- Aline Kominsky-Crumb
- Joan Lingard
- Patricia MacLachlan
- Patricia A. McKillip
- Uri Orlev
- Jan Pienkowski
- Charlotte Pomerantz
- Marcus Sedgwick
- Stuart Woods
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