Acclaimed Novelist Paul Auster Dies at 77 from Lung Cancer

Renowned American novelist Paul Auster, known for his postmodern works like "The New York Trilogy," has passed away at 77 due to lung cancer complications. His unique narrative voice and influential literary legacy will be deeply missed.

Salman Akhtar
New Update
Acclaimed Novelist Paul Auster Dies at 77 from Lung Cancer

Acclaimed Novelist Paul Auster Dies at 77 from Lung Cancer

Paul Auster, the acclaimed American novelist known for his postmodern works like "The New York Trilogy," passed away on Tuesday at the age of 77 in Brooklyn, New York, due to complications from lung cancer. Auster's death was confirmed by his friend and fellow author, Jacki Lyden.

Auster was a prolific writer, publishing 34 books throughout his career, including 18 novels, several memoirs, and other works. He was considered one of the most important contemporary literary voices, with his works translated into over 40 languages. Auster's novels often explored themes of identity, loss, and the human condition, and he was known for toying with readers' expectations.

Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1947, Auster began writing at the age of eight. His literary path commenced when he couldn't get an autograph of his baseball idol, Willie Mays, because he didn't have a pencil, which prompted him to start carrying one and set off his writing career. Auster had a bumpy start, but his "New York Trilogy" novels, which began as classic detective stories but developed into existential explorations, earned him a reputation as a prominent figure in contemporary American literature.

Auster became a literary icon in New York during the 1980s with his philosophical twist on the detective genre in "The New York Trilogy." His adopted city of Brooklyn became a character in many of his works, and he was seen as a guardian of the borough's rich literary past and an inspiration to a new generation of novelists who flocked there in the 1990s and later. Auster's charismatic persona and his critically lauded works earned him worldwide acclaim as one of the signature New York writers of his generation.

Why this matters: Paul Auster's passing marks the loss of a literary giant whose unique voice and style influenced generations of writers. His legacy as a postmodern master and a quintessential New York author will continue to resonate with readers around the world.

Auster also ventured into screenwriting, winning the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay for the 1995 film "Smoke," which portrayed the lost souls who frequent a Brooklyn tobacco shop. Despite his experimental approach, Auster preferred a simple language style that drew comparisons to detective novels. "I've always tried to write in a clear, simple, transparent language," he once said.

The literary world is mourning the loss of this iconic writer, with social media tributes pouring in. Auster's family had faced devastating losses in recent years, with the death of his son Daniel and granddaughter in 2022. He is survived by his wife, writer Siri Hustvedt, their daughter Sophie, his sister Janet, and a grandson. Paul Auster's unique narrative voice and "highly stylised, quirkily riddlesome postmodernist fiction," as described by author Joyce Carol Oates, will be deeply missed.

Key Takeaways

  • Acclaimed American novelist Paul Auster dies at 77 from lung cancer complications.
  • Auster was known for postmodern works like "The New York Trilogy," published 34 books.
  • Auster's novels explored themes of identity, loss, and the human condition.
  • Auster was a literary icon in New York, with Brooklyn as a character in his works.
  • Auster's unique narrative voice and postmodernist fiction will be deeply missed.