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Paul Auster biography

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Paul Auster

Paul Auster

How to pronounce Paul Auster: or-ster

Paul Auster Biography

Paul Benjamin Auster was born on February 3, 1947 in Newark, New Jersey.  His father, Samuel Auster, was a landlord; his mother, Queenie was about 13 years younger than her husband; the marriage was not a happy one. When Auster was about 3, his mother gave birth to a daughter; sadly by the time she was five it was apparent that she was psychologically unstable, and later suffered mental breakdowns. 

Auster's passion for reading began when he was about 12 and his uncle, Allen Mandelbaum (a professor of Italian literature, a poet, and a prolific translator) left several boxes of books in storage in the Auster's house while he traveled to Europe.  Paul read the books avidly and developed an interest in writing and literature that further accentuated his feeling that he was "an internal émigré, an exile in my own house" (from his memoir, Hand to Mouth). 

He went to school in Maplewood, New Jersey and then to Columbia University.  In 1967 he left the USA to attend Columbia's Junior Year Abroad in Paris, but found it uninspiring and undemanding so quit college and lived in a small hotel in Paris, before returning to the USA where he was reinstated at Columbia.  A high lottery number saved him from worrying too much about being drafted during the Vietnam War.  Instead he took a job with the Census Bureau and began working on In The Country of Last Things and Moon Palace, which he would not finish until many years later.   In the early 70s he moved to France where he worked as a translator.  While in France he published a detective story, Squeeze Play, under the pseudonym Paul Benjamin in the hope of making some money. He returned to the USA in 1974. 

In 1979, just after he had completed White Spaces (non fiction), one of his uncles called to say that Auster's father had died.  His inheritance, although not huge, was sufficient to alleviate his immediate money worries and allow him to focus on his writing. Over a 30 year career he has published many volumes of poetry and essays, plus about 20 novels which have been translated into about thirty languages.  He has also translated French writers including Stéphane Mallarmé and Joseph Joubert.  He is arguably best known for his three experimental detective stories collectively referred to as The New York Trilogy (City of Glass, 1985; Ghosts, 1986; The Locked Room, 1986).In 2012 he published a biography, Winter Journal

His first marriage was to the writer Lydia Davis in 1974; his second to the novelist and essayist Siri Hustvedt in 1981.  He has two children, Daniel and Sophie, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Partial Bibliography: Novels
City of Glass (1985)
Ghosts (1986)
The Locked Room (1986)
In the Country of Last Things (1987)
Moon Palace (1989)
The Music of Chance (1990)
Auggie Wren's Christmas Story (1991)
Leviathan (1992)
Mr. Vertigo (1994)
Blue in the Face (1995)
Smoke (1995)
Dream Days in Hotel (1998)
Lulu on the Bridge (1998)
Sophie Calle: Double Game (1999)
Timbuktu (1999)
The Book of Illusions (2002)
Oracle Night (2004)
The Brooklyn Follies (2005)
Travels in the Scriptorium (2006)
Man in the Dark (2008)
Invisible (2009)
Sunset Park (2010)

Copyright BookBrowse.com 2006.



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Interview

Two video interviews with Paul Auster, the first recorded at the New York Public Library about Winter Journal; the second about his earlier book, Invisible

Paul Auster in conversation with Holdengräber at the New York Public Library, about Winter Journal and other topics:



A video interview with Paul Auster about Invisible

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Books by this Author

Books by Paul Auster at BookBrowse
4 3 2 1 jacket Report from the Interior jacket Winter Journal jacket Sunset Park jacket
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