US Novelist Paul Auster Dies Aged 77

New York, (APP – UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – 1st May, 2024) Paul Auster, the prolific American novelist whose works included “The New York Trilogy,” has died of complications from lung cancer, a friend of the novelist told AFP. He was 77.

Auster died on Tuesday evening at his home in Brooklyn surrounded by family, including his wife Siri Hustvedt and daughter Sophie Auster, his friend and fellow author Jacki Lyden said in a statement sent to AFP.

He made his name with noirish, existentialist novels about lonely writers, outsiders and down-and-outers that were a huge hit in Europe particularly.

The author with the soulful, sunken eyes gained cult status in the 1980s and 1990s with his “New York Trilogy” of metaphysical mysteries and his hip film “Smoke,” about the lost souls who frequent a Brooklyn tobacco shop.

Hustved, also an author, announced in March 2023 that he had been diagnosed with cancer.

In a long moving post on Instagram in August 2023, she wrote about their life in “Cancerland” next to photos of them as a younger couple.

“The patient, and I with him, have traveled straight ahead on the road, been delayed, and turned in circles,” she wrote. “We haven’t reached the sign that marks the country’s boundary: You are now leaving Cancerland.

The UK‘s Booker prize said Wednesday in a statement on X that Auster’s “work touched readers and influenced writers all over the world.”

Auster’s work straddles the divide between the middlebrow and the highbrow.

His more than 30 books are as likely to be found in airports as on university reading lists and have been translated into more than 40 languages.

His life was marred by tragedy in later years, with his 10-month-old granddaughter dying after ingesting heroin and his son Daniel, the child’s father, dying of an overdose 10 months later. Daniel’s mother was Auster’s first wife, the writer Lydia Davis.

Lyden called Auster a “writer’s writer” who covered “every facet of loss, loneliness, and the joys and sorrows of a life in words”.

“He never lost touch with human suffering, and connectedness, and it made him the beloved writer he has become,” she said.

New York Trilogy –

Auster was born in 1947 and grew up in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Jewish Polish immigrants.

He moved to New York to attend Columbia University where he studied French, Italian and British literature.

After graduating, he spent four years in France, where he made a living off translating French poetry while honing his craft as a writer.

His fluent French later made him a popular guest on French television culture shows.

After returning to America in 1975 he held a number of jobs before his father’s death in 1979 left him with an inheritance allowing him to concentrate full time on writing.

He first gained notice in 1982 with “The Invention of Solitude” — an autobiographical novel that dealt with the memory of his father — but his big breakthrough came with “The New York Trilogy,” a philosophical twist on the detective genre featuring a shady quartet of private investigators named Blue, Brown, Black, and White.

The three books in the series were “City of Glass” in 1985, followed by “Ghosts” and “The Locked Room” in 1986.

Many of his novels deal with the role of chance and coincidence in shaping his characters’ destiny.

His gift for sharp dialogue — Auster mercilessly edited himself for sentence rhythm — was key to the success of “Smoke,” which he wrote and co-directed, about a Brooklyn tobacconist played by Harvey Keitel.

He also he wrote and co-directed “Blue in the Face” — another Brooklyn-based story — with the same director, Wayne Wang.

In 2017 he broke with his concise style to deliver a 866-page tome, “4 3 2 1”, charting American society through the life of an everyman, Archie Ferguson.

Auster presented it as his masterwork.

But while America’s National Public Radio found it “dazzling”, others were less positive, with The Irish Times deeming it “the last fat novel of a collapsed American pride”.

A committed supporter of the Democratic Party, he denounced the years of President George W. Bush in his writings.
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