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R.I.P. Barry Hughart (1934 – 2019)

Damn. I just found out that Barry Hughart, who wrote the Master Li and Number Ten Ox novels I adored as a kid (and equally so as an adult), died earlier in August. Not surprisingly, pretty much nobody noticed, and I’m only hearing about it now, since he hadn’t written a single word in almost 30 years.

Despite winning a ton of awards for Bridge of Birds, he walked away from literature entirely in the early 90's because his publishers were incompetent bunglers who mismanaged just about aspect of his writing career, and it was impossible financially for him to continue, leaving what was supposed to be a seven-part series unfinished after only three books.


I kept hoping that maybe, once he got to retirement age, he’d come out of self-imposed exile and self-publish at least one more novel detailing the adventures of the ancient sage/detective/boozehound Li Kao, and his sturdy assistant, Number Ten Ox, but alas, that was not to be the case.

R.I.P. Barry. May you always have “a slight flaw in your character.”

Illustration for article titled R.I.P. Barry Hughart (1934 – 2019)

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