Two greats of music and literature recently passed away: Stainslaw Lem and Ali Farka Touré . Lem was a Polish science-fiction author known for his dry humor and versatility and Touré was a renowed blues singer and guitarist from Mali.
Many of Lem's books have not been translated into English. I was lucky enough to find a translation of THE STAR DIARIES a collection of satiric SF tales starring Ijon Tichy, intrepid explorer and space hero, in a rundown bookstore in New Delhi back in 1992. From that point on, I was hooked. Lem's stories are philosophical, imaginative, absurd, and comic. One of his best known works, SOLARIS, was adapted into film twice--once by Russian director Andrei Tarkovksy in 1972 (try his movie STALKER) and much more recently by Steven Soderbergh starring George Clooney (don't bother watching this version--it turns the novel into a romance in space which it's not).
Ali Farka Touré was often known as the "African John Lee Hooker" and his music bridged traditional Malian music with American blues. His style was hypnotic and he often sang in one of several African languages, including Fula. My favorite album of his is THE SOURCE although all of them are great. I'm not sure where I first heard about him, but I've been listening to Touré for over a decade and it's sad to know that there won't be any new music of his to enjoy.