"Three Cups of Tea" co-author David Oliver Relin has committed suicide at the age of 49. Relin's book was a runaway bestseller but quickly came under fire amid allegations that parts of it were untrue.
Relin died of blunt force trauma to the head, but the medical examiner refused to provide further details. He reportedly suffered from depression and leaves behind a wife, mother, stepfather, and two sisters. He had just completed a book about "two doctors working to cure cataract-related blindness in the developing world," The New York Times reported. It will be published in 2013.
"Three Cups of Tea" was an international bestseller that told the story of Greg Mortenson, who said he got lost in the mountains of Pakistan and was rescued by the people of Korphe. Mortenson then went on to repay the act of kindness by building schools and helping fund other developments in the city.
Speculation ensued when it was alleged that Mortenson's schools did not exist or were built by another charity, not his own. Jon Krakauer published an e-book called "Three Cups of Deceit," which questioned major plot points and facts asserted by Mortenson.
A lawsuit against Relin, who co-authored the book, was dismissed earlier this year. Mortenson, however, agreed to repay the Central Asia Institute more than $1 million in expenses he allegedly misused.
Relin was hurt by the scandal both emotionally and financially; he wanted to be able to tell stories he felt needed telling.
"He felt his causes passionately," Lee Kravitz, one of Relin's former editors told The Times. "He especially cared about young people. I always assigned him to stories that would inspire people to take action to improve their lives."
Many have taken to social media to express their grief and sympathy at the loss of a great writer.
"We're sad to hear of [the] suicide of David Oliver Relin, co-author of the incredible book, Three Cups of Tea," tweeted Audiobooks.com.
"Oh my god. Terrible," added Sarah Weinman.
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