Technological, economic and societal changes seem to be combining to threaten the institutions that supported the best journalism of the past. Often what began under sponsorship of daily newspapers or weekly and monthly magazines, ended up in influential books that provided powerful reading and essential information. So it is not certain there will be many more with the career of reporter and fictionist Ward Just, or reporter and analyst William Greider, whose last book was entitled The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy.
The singular career of American poet W.S. Merwin--and the poems that resulted, especially in his later years--should fascinate future generations, though he is likely to remain unique. Assuming those future generations (if any) have perception as well as perspective, his reputation will be much higher, and his absence from most 2019 "notable deaths" stories scandalous.
Gene Wolfe was a model of literary science fiction, who younger writers now emulate. He is best known for his Book of the New Sun series.
But it isn't always the most famous who provide important books, in individual lives as well as society. Among the books written by historian of the 20th century John Lukas was his 2005 Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred, a topic of our moment he foresaw.
Among the other fiction and non-fiction writers from around the world who died in 2019 (in no particular order) were novelist Larry Heinemann, Charles A. Reich (The Greening of America), literary theorist Jean Starobinski, writer and publisher James Atlas, historian Alan Brinkley, biographer Edmund Morris, Nick Tosches.
Among the poets from around the world who died in 2019 (in no particular order) were A. Alvarez, Leonard Wolf, Joe Rosenblatt, Kevin Killian, Louis Jenkins, John Irwin, Jules Deelder, Carol Muller, Piu Shahe, Amjad Nasser, Ludwig Zeller, Carol Satyamurti. Apologies for omissions and misspellings.
May they rest in peace. Their work lives on.