Fans across the world expressed their sadness on social media about the news of Eric Jerome Dickey's death. 

The beloved author's publicist released a statement confirming that Dickey died in Los Angeles, California, on Sunday at the age of 59 after suffering from a long term illness. 

Dickey's publisher Dutton called his decades of work a "cultural touchstone," in a statement to Blavity:

"Eric Jerome Dickey loved being a writer and all that it encompassed. He loved challenging himself with each book; he adored his readers and beloved fans and was always grateful for his success. We are proud to have been his publisher over the span of his award-winning career. He will truly be missed."

Dickey spent decades as one of the most prolific Black writers in the world, making it onto the New York Times' Best Seller list at least 18 times. 

He sold more than 7 million books worldwide, according to his publicist, and was often featured on lists of the greatest Black authors alive.

He published nearly 30 books throughout his prolific career, including hits like Friends and Lovers, Milk in My Coffee, Cheaters, Chasing Destiny, Liar’s Game, Between Lovers, Thieves’ Paradise, The Other Woman, Drive Me Crazy, Genevieve, Naughty or Nice, Sleeping with Strangers, Waking with Enemies, Pleasure, Dying for Revenge, Resurrecting Midnight, Tempted by Trouble, An Accidental Affair, and Decadence. 

Dickey's passing led to an outpouring of love and sadness on social media, with dozens of Black writers and readers discussing the way his books shaped their life-long love of literature. 

Dickey, who was born in Memphis, Tennessee, leaves behind four daughters, according to his publicist. 

While he initially got a degree in computer system technology, he quickly pivoted to acting and screenplay writing. 

But he found his mark writing novels, and within a few years, he was signed with an agent and never looked back. 

He released his newest novel, The Business of Lovers, in April 2020 and pledged to do everything he could to continue the fan events he had become well-known for holding. 

"We'll do Skype, Zoom, whatever we can do via social [media]. The delivery of my books to my home hasn't even happened. I don't even have copies of my own books," he told The Memphis Flyer last year. 

He spoke at length about how the COVID-19 pandemic would change the business of releasing novels and was already looking ahead to his next books.

"What it does to business remains to be seen. I've got a couple of other projects that are due to come out later or next year, but you've had this watershed moment, this global event, that now really dates your writing. There's going to be pre-corona and post-corona. If you a see a movie with people at the airport walking somebody to the gates, you're like, 'Oh, that happened before 9/11,'" he said.

He explained that his latest book was about someone struggling with an illness, which they did not share with their family.  

"It's one of those things where people go through something but don't know how to ask for help because they don't want to disturb the lives of others. Anybody can smile and take a picture in front of a palm tree," he said. "That photo can only hint at what's going on beyond the edges of the frame," he said.

"It's a novel about family — the family you have and the family that you choose to have," he added.

Dutton said it plans to publish Dickey's novel, The Son of Mr. Suleman on April 20.