07. 28. 2011. 10:40

Agota Kristof died

Hungarian-born Swiss writer Agota Kristof died at her home in Neuchâtel, Switzerland on Tuesday night at the age of 75.

Agota Kristof was an acclaimed writer, recipient of numerous literary prizes such as Austria's State Prize for European Literature, the Gottfried Keller Prize, the Alberto Moravia Prize, and most recently, the most prestigious Hungarian state award, the Kossuth Prize.

Agota Kristof was born in 1935 in Csikvánd, Hungary, and spent her childhood in her native village and at Kőszeg. Her father was sentenced to several years’ prison for political reasons. After finishing grammar school in 1954 she married her former history teacher.

In 1956 she emigrated to Switzerland with her husband and baby daughter. They settled in Neuchâtel where she worked in a watch factory for five years. She wrote her first works—mainly poems—in Hungarian, and published them in Hungarian-language literary journals in Paris. Later on she switched to French, a language she had learnt in the watch factory, because she realized that in order to be known and read, one must write in the language of the country where one lives.

Her first novel, Le grand cahier (The Notebook) was published in 1987 and was an instant success. It was followed by La Preuve (The Proof, 1988), Le Troisième mensonge (The Third Lie, 1991) and Hier (Yesterday, 1995). Her Trilogy (The Notebook, The Proof, The Third Lie), an outstanding work of literature written in emigration, has been translated into forty languages and played in many theatres in Hungary and elsewhere.  Agota Kristof's last book, a collection of autobiographical pieces entitled L’Analphabète was published in 2004.

Read our last interview with Agota Kristof

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