Invisible Life is the story of a young man’s coming of age. Law school, girlfriends, and career choices were all part of Raymond Tyler’s life, but there were other, more terrifying issues for him to confront. Being black was tough enough, but Raymond was becoming more and more conscious of sexual feelings that he knew weren’t “right.” He was completely committed to Sela, his longtime girlfriend, but his attraction to Kelvin, whom he had met during his last year in law school, had become more than just a friendship. No matter how much he tried to suppress them, his feelings were deeply sexual.
Fleeing to New York to escape both Sela and Kelvin, Raymond finds himself more confused than ever before. New relationships — both male and female — give him enormous pleasure but keep him from finding the inner peace and lasting love he so desperately desires. The horrible illness and death of a friend force Raymond, at last, to face the truth.
E. Lynn Harris was born in Flint, Michigan and raised, along with three sisters, in Little Rock, Arkansas. He attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville where he was the school’s first black yearbook editor, the first black male Razorbacks cheerleader, and the president of his fraternity. He graduated with honors with a degree in journalism.
Harris sold computers for IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and AT&T for thirteen years while living in Dallas, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. He finally quit his sales job to write his first novel, Invisible Life, and, failing to find a publisher, he published it himself in 1991 and sold it mostly at black-owned bookstores, beauty salons, and book clubs before he was “discovered” by Anchor Books. Anchor published Invisible Life as a trade paperback in 1994, and thus his career as an author officially began.
Invisible Life was followed by Just As I Am (1994), And This Too Shall Pass (1996), If This World Were Mine (1997), Abide with Me (1999), Not A Day Goes By (2000), Any Way the Wind Blows (2001), A Love of My Own (2002), I Say A Little Prayer (2006), Just Too Good To Be True (2008), Basketball Jones(2009), and Mama Dearest(2009),all published by Doubleday, and In My Father’s House(2010), published by St. Martin’s Press. Ten of Harris’s novels hit the New York Times bestseller list, and his books have also appeared on the bestseller lists of the Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. In 2003, Harris published his first work of nonfiction, a memoir entitled What Becomes of the Brokenhearted, which was also a New York Times bestseller. Today, there are more than four million copies of his books in print.
Harris’s writing also appeared in Essence, Washington Post Sunday Magazine, and Sports Illustrated, as well as in the award-winning anthology Brotherman: The Odyssey of Black Men in America, Go The Way Your Blood Beats. His novella, “Money Can’t Buy Me Love” was published in Got To Be Real: Four Original Love Stories. Freedom in This Village, a collection of short stories edited by Harris, was released in the fall of 2004. His short fiction appeared in Gumbo: A Celebration of African American Writers (Harlem Moon), a 2002 collection he edited with writer Marita Golden.
Harris won numerous accolades and prizes for his work. Just As I Am was awarded the Novel of the Year Prize by the Blackboard African-American Bestsellers, Inc. If This World Were Mine was nominated for a NAACP Image Award and won the James Baldwin Award for Literary Excellence. Abide with Me was also nominated for a NAACP Image Award. His anthology Freedom in this Village won the Lambda Literary Award in 2005. In 1999, the University of Arkansas honored Harris with a Citation of Distinguished Alumni for outstanding professional achievement, and in October 2000 he was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. He was named to Ebony‘s “Most Intriguing Blacks” list, Out Magazine‘s “Out 100” list, New York Magazine‘s “Gay Power 101” list, and Savoy‘s “100 Leaders and Heroes in Black America” list. Other honors included the Sprague Todes Literary Award, the Harvey Milk Honorary Diploma, and The Silas Hunt Award for Outstanding Achievement from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
Harris was a member of the Board of Directors of the Hurston/Wright Foundation and the Evidence Dance Company. He was the founder of the E. Lynn Harris Better Days Foundation, a nonprofit company that provides support to aspiring writers and artists.
E. Lynn Harris passed away in 2009.