Paul Auster, creator of literary labyrinths, dies of cancer at age 77

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“I hope to survive the interview without fainting.” With those words I started January 31, 2023 Paul Austerthe telephone interview he gave to ELMUNDO.es to talk about his book A country bathed in blooda fierce criticism of USA that does not occupy a prominent place in his work. Auster He was already sick, he already knew that he had little chance of getting ahead, and in that indirect way he warned the journalist of the final outcome of the book of his life.

Paul Auster He died on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning in Spain) in Brooklynthe neighborhood (although in NY the “neighborhoods” have two million inhabitants) that he describes in many of his novels and, also, in some of his film scripts, especially that of the acclaimed film Smokefrom the director Wayne Wang. Smokewhat does it mean smoke either smokebecause Auster obviously smoked a lot, although in the last years of his life he switched to vaping. It was late. His death was due to lung cancer.

He died in his house, a brownstone -that is, a kind of semi-detached house with three floors of brown stone- with high ceilings, in the neighborhood of Park Slopewhich five decades ago, when he and his wife moved there Siri Hustvedtit was an urban jungle and today it does not have a house like the one of the Auster that is not worth a few million dollars. That Paul Auster died in Brooklyn It was almost a literary imperative, just as Woody Allen will have to do it one day in Manhattan.

His farewell, however, has some sarcasm. Paul Auster He died the same day that the New York police evicted students from the ultra-exclusive Columbia and took them away tied with plastic tape for protesting against the war in Gaza. The writer would have been on the side of the students, not only because he was left-wing but also because he had an anti-authoritarian tic that had led him to reject invitations to visit the People’s Republic of China or Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey. So Auster would have been outraged by the actions of the police. And I would have written, perhaps, an essay.

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It was not the rehearsals, however, that put Paul Auster at the top of world literature to the point that his books are translated into forty languages, but fiction. In particular, his New York Trilogycomposed of three works: Crystal City, Ghostsand The closed room. Paul Auster He became the quintessential writer of Brooklynand if that neighborhood of New York is today the literary center of the city it is, to a large extent, thanks to him.

All that fame came to him after his first novel, Crystal Citywas rejected by no less than 17 publishers, despite the relative success he had had with his first book, the autobiographical essay The invention of loneliness. Then came the honors, the awards and the unstoppable success.

Paul Auster He was a very popular writer even though the theme of his books was never easy. And he was also an author close to Spain. The invention of loneliness It is largely an intertextual dialogue with The Quijoteand 20 years later, in 2006, he traveled with his second wife, also the novelist and essayist Siri Hustvedtto Oviedo, to pick up the Princess (then, still Prince) of Asturias Award.

The trip must have marked them, especially Hustvedt, which she also won the award thirteen years later. When the author of these lines told the writer with patriotic pride that he was from that place where the family was going to collect awards, she limited herself to saying, thoughtfully: “Yeah, it’s very strange… they play the bagpipes”.


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