Novelist Kent Haruf, who was shortlisted for the inaugural Folio Prize earlier this year, has died after a battle with cancer at the age of 71.
Haruf’s editor at his US publisher Knopf, Gary Fisketjon, confirmed the author’s passing yesterday (Sunday 30th November) to the Washington Post.
Published in the UK by Picador, Haruf had finished his latest novel, Our Souls at Night, planned for publication next year.
“Kent had finished all his revisions and even gone through the copy editing,” Fisketjon said. “We had it scheduled for May, though I haven’t yet processed how this tragic news might alter those plans.”
Haruf’s most recent novel, Benediction, as well as a number of his other books, were set in the fictional small town of Holt, Colorado, an amalgamation of the towns where the author grew up.
Picador publisher Paul Baggaley told The Bookseller: "Picador is the proud publisher of Kent Haruf’s novels and I was privileged to publish Benediction, the third novel in Haruf’s masterly loose trilogy of novels set in Holt, Colorado. These novels form one of the major achievements of contemporary American fiction, rivalling the great works of Cormac McCarthy, Richard Ford and Annie Proulx in creating a mythical modern American landscape. Haruf’s writing commanded utter devotion from his readers and there was simply no writer more loved at Pan Macmillan. The quiet restraint of his writing belied his extraordinary ability to dissection the minutiae of relationships, no more so than in his heart-breakingly poignant final novel Our Souls at Night."
In a statement, reported by the Associated Press, Knopf said the town was "one of the truly indelible places in American literature.”
Haruf is survived by his wife, Cathy, and three daughters.