Paul Auster, 1947-2024

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The news hit the literary world that author Paul Auster passed away yesterday, April 30, 2024. Auster was a bestselling and award-winning American author for whom New York played a significant role in his writing. Auster’s work ran the gamut from novels, memoir, general nonfiction, poetry, and screenplays. A personal favorite, it is his novels that resonate with me the most, though you can’t go wrong wherever you start in his oeuvre.

His work is considered postmodern, but Auster himself said, “‘Postmodern’ is a term I don’t understand … there’s an arrogance to all this labelling, a self-assurance that I find to be distasteful, if not dishonest. I try to be humble in the face of my own confusions, and I don’t want to elevate my doubts to some status they don’t deserve. I’m really stumbling. I’m really in the dark. I don’t know. And if that – what I would call honesty – qualifies as postmodern, then OK, but it’s not as if I ever wanted to write a book that sounded like John Barth or Robert Coover.”

Auster’s work often dealt with the nature of reality and identity, weaving himself into the narrative in brilliant metafiction. Franz Kafka and Samuel Becket were two of Auster’s literary influences, and familiarity with their works leads to an understanding of his style. Like Beckett, Auster had a lengthy relationship with France, living there for some time and frequently translating work.

The New York Trilogy is Auster’s best-known work, featuring the novels City of Glass, Ghosts, and The Locked Room (published in consecutive years in the mid-1980s). Auster continued to write through the following decades, with two final works released just last year: the nonfiction book Bloodbath Nation, about gun violence, and the novel Baumgartner, about a soon to be retired professor who is a recent widower.  

View Auster's works owned throughout our consortium. 

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