Author Randall Kenan has died at the age of 57, according to a friend and colleague at the University of North Carolina, who told the AP he was found dead at his home on Friday. Kenan released a new book of stories, If I Had Two Wings: Stories, earlier this month.
Writes Lambda Literary: “Randall Kenan’s contribution to the canon of contemporary gay literature is unparalleled. Brooklyn born and North Carolina raised, he was a writer who explored how desire, community, and generational trauma can both uplift and warp the black gay rural experience. With a heightened lyricism and a nod to the fantastical, Kenan centered characters who often struggled against the thicket of their personal wants and histories. … Kenan was the author of a novel, A Visitation of Spirits; two works of non-fiction, Walking on Water: Black American Lives at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century and The Fire This Time; and two collection of stories, Let the Dead Bury Their Dead and the recently released If I Had Two Wings. He edited and wrote the introduction for The Cross of Redemption: The Uncollected Writings of James Baldwin. Among his awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, the North Carolina Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Rome Prize, and a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction. At the time of his death, he was a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at UNC-Chapel Hill.”
The AP adds: “Earlier this month, Kenan wrote an open letter reflecting on his experience as a Black student at UNC in the ’80s, and the changes prompted by civil unrest, demands for racial justice and the removal of Confederate statues across the South.”