US Novelist Paul Auster Dies Aged 77

Paul Auster, the prolific American novelist known for “The New York Trilogy,” died of symptoms from lung cancer, according to a friend. He was 77.

Auster passed away on Tuesday evening at home in Brooklyn, surrounded by family, including wife Siri Hustvedt and daughter Sophie Auster, according to a statement from friend and colleague author Jacki Lyden to AFP.

He earned his name with noirish, existentialist novels about lonely writers, outsiders, and downtrodden people, which were particularly popular in Europe.

The novelist with the sad, sunken eyes rose to cult prominence in the 1980s and 1990s with his “New York Trilogy” of metaphysical puzzles and the trendy film “Smoke,” which follows the lost souls who frequent a Brooklyn tobacco shop.

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

Auster’s work bridges the gap between middlebrow and highbrow.

His more than 30 works are as common in airports as they are on university reading lists, and they have been translated into over 40 different languages.

In subsequent years, tragedy struck his life, with his 10-month-old granddaughter dying after taking heroin and his son Daniel, the child’s father, dying of an overdose ten months later.

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 grew raised in Newark, New Jersey, as the son of Jewish Polish immigrants.

He proceeded to New York to attend Columbia University, and after graduation, he spent four years in France, working as a translator while improving his writing skills.

His success came with “The New York Trilogy,” a philosophical take on the detective genre starring a sinister quartet of private detectives dubbed Blue, Brown, Black, and White.

His ability for crisp speech — Auster relentlessly edited himself for phrase rhythm — was critical to the success of “Smoke,” a film he wrote and co-directed about a Brooklyn smoke store owner played by Harvey Keitel.

In 2017, he deviated from his brief technique and published “4 3 2 1,” an 866-page tome that charts American culture through the life of an everyday man, Archie Ferguson.

Auster presented it as his masterpiece.

While National Public Radio described it as “dazzling,” The Irish Times called it “the last fat novel of a collapsed American pride.”

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