Barry Lopez, the Oregon-based writer known for his stunning descriptions of the natural world, died on Friday. He was 75.
His family said Lopez had battled prostate cancer for several years.
Born in New York and raised in California, Lopez eventually settled in rural Oregon. He earned a cult following in the 1970s and '80s for his essays, fiction and journalism, much of which focused on the connections between humans and nature.
His 1986 book, Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape, about the five years he spent working as a biologist in the Canadian Arctic, won the National Book Award and brought his work to a wider audience.
Lopez and his wife, Debra Gwartney, had been living in a secluded part of Western Oregon, along the McKenzie River, but lost their house earlier this year to the wildfires that swept across the state. He was in Eugene at the time of his death.
His final book, Horizon, an autobiographical account of his years spent traveling the world, was published in 2019 and nominated for an Oregon Book Award.
Lopez largely avoided the trappings of literary fame and rarely made public appearances. But he became more visible in the last decade of his life, giving lectures and lending his voice to environmental causes.
"When I was writing about wolves or the Arctic or any exotic subject, I was always looking for people who explain something about complex processes readers would find engaging," he told WW in 2015. "The shift over 40 years is that I now find myself in that position. People think of me in a way that's not just a writer but as a person who's actively thinking about international concerns, and I have made an effort to see a lot of the world, of both its underbelly and its glories."