Dutch author Harry Mulisch dies

31st October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Dutch author Harry Mulisch, whose work spawned an Oscar-winning film, has died of cancer aged 83, his family and publisher announced on Sunday.

"Surrounded by his family, he died at his home in Amsterdam" on Saturday evening, they said in a statement.

"With his death, the Netherlands has lost one of her greatest literary sons."

Mulisch's books included "The Assault" which inspired a film of the same name that won the Oscar in 1987 for best foreign picture, and "The Discovery of Heaven."

Known for his habit of referring to himself as the best writer of all time, Mulisch penned more than 70 novels, essays, poems and plays, mostly inspired by World War II.

He and his mother, a Jew, managed to escape the Nazi extermination camps thanks to his father's job with the controversial Lippmann-Rosenthal bank in Amsterdam, set up to manage assets taken from Dutch Jews by the Nazis.

"He always said -- 'I am the Second World War'," Mulisch's fellow writer Cees Nooteboom told Dutch broadcaster NOS, describing his friend as "a unique literary personality.

"It was always about the war, the war and the war."

Mulisch won many accolades and was talked of as a possible Nobel laureate.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Mulisch's death was a "great loss for the Netherlands and for Dutch literature.

"We all grew up with him," the premier said. "Mulisch presided over Dutch literature. This is the end of an era."

Dutch Deputy Culture Minister Halbe Zijlstra described Mulisch as a great writer with an imposing and varied body of work who was also celebrated abroad."

© 2010 AFP

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