Judith Kerr, 95, the British book author and illustrator who delighted children with tales of a hungry tiger and a mischievous cat named Mog, died Wednesday at her home in London. In a career spanning 50 years, Kerr was best known for her first book, “The Tiger Who Came to Tea,” published in 1968.
Kerr moved to England in 1933 when her family left Germany to escape the growing threat of Nazism. Her father, Alfred Kerr, was a Jewish theater critic whose books were burned because he was critical of the Nazi regime. The family, including Judith Kerr’s brother, Michael, fled to Switzerland and Paris before settling in England three years later.
Binyavanga Wainaina, 48, prizewinning Kenyan writer whose humorous, incisive books and essays explored themes of postcolonialism, gender and sexual identity, including his own decision to come out as a gay man in a country that long demonized homosexuality, died Tuesday in Nairobi. Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper reported that he had died at a hospital after a stroke.
Wainaina’s essay “How to Write About Africa,” published in the British literary journal Granta in 2005, became a minor sensation, offering a biting critique of foreign journalists’ and authors’ clichéd approach to covering the continent.
“Treat Africa as if it were one country,” he wrote in the essay, saying that the characters must include “the Starving African, who wanders the refugee camp nearly naked, and waits for the benevolence of the West.”
“She must look utterly helpless,” he added.
Jake Black, 59, who wrote “Woke Up This Morning,” the indelible theme song for the groundbreaking HBO drama “The Sopranos,” with a bandmate in the group Alabama 3, died Tuesdayin London. The cause was acute respiratory illness. Black died days after Alabama 3 performed at a festival in Lancashire, England.
Niki Lauda, 70, the Austrian race-car driver who won three world championships in Formula One, the sport’s highest level of international competition, and was regarded as one of the greatest speedway drivers of all time, died Monday in Zurich. No cause was reported.
Lauda was injured many times in crashes and once nearly killed. He had kidney transplants in 1997 and 2005, and in August, while struggling with severe lung disease, he underwent what was described as a successful lung transplant at a hospital in Vienna.
The fiery crash that almost cost his life in 1976 marked him for life. Much of his face and scalp and half of one ear were burned off. His lungs and bronchial passages were seared from inhaling flames and burning plastic. His eyelids had to be reconstructed. Lauda refused additional cosmetic surgeries and missed only two races before coming back behind the wheel, blood sipping through bandages. He finish fourth. He closed his career with 25 Grand Prix victories, a dominant force in the field.
Louis Osteen, 77, a gregarious chef whose influential South Carolina restaurants helped elevate Southern cuisine to a new respectability in the 1980s and ’90s, died May 19 at his home in Highlands, North Carolina. The cause was liver cancer.
Eric Talmadge, 57, a native of Renton, who as North Korea bureau chief for The Associated Press tenaciously chronicled life and politics in one of the world’s least-understood nations, died last week in Japan after suffering a heart attack while running. A decades-long resident of Japan with deep expertise on Asian security and military issues, he seemed to have found his ideal job when he was appointed in 2013 to lead the AP bureau in Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital.
Herman Wouk, 103, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the Navy drama “The Caine Mutiny” whose sweeping novels about World War II, the Holocaust and the creation of Israel made him one of the most popular writers of his generation and helped revitalize the genre of historical fiction, died May 17 at his home in Palm Springs, California.
A meticulous researcher, Wouk specialized in stories of personal conflict set against the backdrop of compelling historical events, including “The Caine Mutiny” (1951), “The Winds of War” (1971) and “War and Remembrance” (1978). The latter two became ABC miniseries in the 1980s starring Robert Mitchum that averaged tens of millions of viewers over the course of their broadcast and were the highest-rated miniseries after Alex Haley’s “Roots.”
Bob Hawke, 89, Australia’s hugely popular prime minister from 1983 to 1991, who presided over wrenching changes that integrated his nation into the global economy and strengthened ties with Asia and America, died May 16 at his home in Sydney.
Georgie Anne Geyer, 84, a reporter and syndicated columnist who, at a time when most foreign correspondents were men, interviewed Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein, was embedded with leftist guerrillas in Guatemala and covered trouble spots all over the globe, died May 15 in Washington. No cause was disclosed.