Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein

Paul Auster: In Remembrance (02/03/1947 – 04/30/2024)

Paul Auster roamed the plains of American letters, producing works ranging from experimental to commercial fiction, every book something completely new, never repeating himself, producing a half-century of significant contributions, one after another. It would be impossible to conceive of contemporary American literature without him. Truly one of the greats of his generation—a poet and translator turned memoirist and novelist—always hungry to expand the boundaries of what a book can be. Not least, he bridged the cultures of Big and Independent publishing. His last book, Baumgartner, from the independent publisher Grove, is a strong novel, not at all a book you’d think could have been written by a sick man, although Paul was already very sick with cancer when he wrote it. The Invention of Solitude, his first book, is certainly one of the towering works of the second half of the 20th century—there’s never been a debut like it.

We published Paul’s A Life in Words, a book-length series of conversations with a Danish academic, I.B. Siegumfeldt, who specializes in Paul Auster studies. It has him telling the story of each of his books from The Invention of Solitude (1982) to Sunset Park (2010).

Paul was someone who talked to you on the phone, not via email. He would call, and you could call him. For most of the years I knew him, he didn’t have an assistant. He embodied all that makes American writing so particular, the savage grace that grows from us still being a young frontier country after all. We will always miss him now.

—Dan Simon for Seven Stories Press