Ernest J. Gaines, author of The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, has passed away at 86.
Gaines, whose work included Pulitzer Prize-nominated A Lesson Before Dying, passed away in his sleep of cardiac arrest at his Oscar, Louisiana home.
The acclaimed writer was a MacArthur Foundation fellow, received the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction, and was awarded the National Medal of Arts by former President Barack Obama in 2013.
John Davies, CEO and president of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, which sponsors a literary award in honor of Gaines, told the Associated Press, “Ernest Gaines was a Louisiana treasure. He will be remembered for his powerful prose that placed the reader directly into the story of the old South, as only he could describe it. We have lost a giant and a friend.”
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards also issued a statement following the news, “[Gaines] used his immense vision and literary talents to tell the stories of African Americans in the South. We are all blessed that Ernest left words and stories that will continue to inspire many generations to come.”
Rest in peace!