American writer Paul Auster dies at 77 | Culture

American writer Paul Auster dies at 77 | Culture
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The American writer Paul Auster died this Tuesday in New York at the age of 77 as a result of the lung cancer he suffered from, the diagnosis of which his wife, also the writer Siri Hustvedt, publicly announced a year ago. His death occurred a few months after publishing Baumgartner, the novel in which he reviews five decades of writing and which constitutes his literary testament. Internationally recognized, both for his literature and for his forays into cinema—such as the film Smokewith Harvey Keitel in the title role—author of the acclaimed New York Trilogy or the novel river 4 3 2 1the charismatic author and secular patron of his adopted neighborhood, Brooklyn, was awarded numerous prizes although the Nobel always eluded him, but above all it was the recognition of critics – the literary supplement of the British Times called him “one of the most spectacularly inventive American writers”—the one who forged his stature as a giant of letters.

Although originally from the neighboring state of New Jersey, Auster was one of the luminaries of the New York cultural scene, from which he retired after being diagnosed with cancer. Visibly deteriorating even before the illness he was suffering became known, his increasingly rare public appearances, such as the authors’ tribute to his friend Salman Rushdie, victim of an attack in August 2022, presaged a weakening of his condition, which The double family blow that he suffered when he lost his granddaughter and his son in a short period of time, finally undermined him.

A prolific novelist, memoirist and screenwriter whose fame exploded in the 1980s with his postmodern reinvention of the crime novel, Auster was often described as a “literary superstar” in the media. Bound to the rhythms of his adopted city, which was also a character in much of his work, he remained faithful above all to Brooklyn, where he settled in 1980 among the oak-lined streets of the brownstonesor traditional brownstone houses that constitute the typology of the Park Slope neighborhood, his neighborhood. As his reputation grew, Auster came to be considered a guardian of Brooklyn’s rich literary past, with Jewish roots, and also the main replacement of the generation that inherited the Faulkner colossus, led by Philip Roth.

“Paul Auster was he novelist from Brooklyn in the eighties and nineties, when I was growing up there, at a time when very few famous writers lived in the neighborhood,” he told the newspaper. The New York Times the writer and poet Meghan O’Rourke, raised in a neighborhood near Auster. “Her books were on the shelves of all my parents’ friends. As teenagers, my friends and I avidly read Auster’s work both because of its strangeness—that touch of European surrealism—and because of its closeness.

That European touch made him, like Woody Allen and his films, a creator especially appreciated in the Old Continent. In France—he lived as a young man in Paris—he won several literary prizes and became one of those rare Americans whom the French welcome like an adopted son. “Auster is a rock star in Paris,” the magazine wrote in 2007. New York.

In the United Kingdom, his novel 4 3 2 1, published in 2017 and which offers four parallel versions of the early life of its protagonist – Mr. Auster, a Jewish boy born in Newark in 1947 -, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Another parallel with the great Roth, perhaps the literary father whom he never wanted to kill to make his way in the world of letters: both with Jewish and New Jersey roots.

His career took off in 1982, with his memoirs The invention of loneliness, a disturbing reflection on his distant relationship with his father. His first novel, Crystal Citywas rejected by 17 publishers before being published by a small Californian label in 1985. The book became the first installment of his most famous work, New York Trilogy, later collected in a single volume. It was one of the 25 most significant New York novels of the last 100 years according to a style supplement of The New York Times.


Crystal City is the story of a mystery writer reeling from a personal loss—a theme always present in Auster’s work, first that of his father and then, in the last stretch of his life, the double tragedy of his granddaughter. and his son as a result of his drug addiction – and that, through a wrong number, he is mistaken for a private detective named Paul Auster. The writer begins to assume the identity of the detective, losing himself in a real-life investigative job as he descends into madness.

Auster often said that he preferred Emily Brontë to any contemporary; He avoided computers and often wrote with a fountain pen in notebooks. He would then use his old Olympia typewriter to type her manuscripts. He immortalized the machine in his 2002 book The story of my typewriter. An example of a modern classic, or a modern one with very classic ways, Auster was married to the writer and essayist Hudsvedt, winner of the Prince of Asturias award. In a publication on the social network Instagram, the writer reflected on the paradoxes that accompanying a sick person poses and on the harshness of the treatments: “Living in a place called Cancerland.”

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