Paul Auster, Celebrated Brooklyn Author, Passes Away at 77

Exploring the profound impact of a literary icon.

by Nouman Rasool
Paul Auster, Celebrated Brooklyn Author, Passes Away at 77
© Ander Gillenea/Getty Images

Paul Auster—who, for the first time, brought in a new chord of post-modern writing into the global literary scenario—passed away at the age of 77. The news of death was confirmed by a friend of his, Jacki Lyden, which has caused a significant loss to the world of literature and screenwriting.

Auster, from New Jersey, came to national prominence in the 1980s after having become a particularly successful reinventor of the hard-boiled novel, probably the last great innovator of the form. His great novel, "The New York Trilogy," is quite appropriately at the center of the canon and critical debate.

It also placed him at the center of New York's literary culture, that of Brooklyn, for a good amount of time. By 1980, moving to Park Slope, Auster became synonymous with the literary identity of the borough, his narratives weaving the very essence of Brooklyn into the fabric.

His work was praised for the inventiveness of his storytelling and the complexity of character development; even the Times Literary Supplement called him a "literary superstar." This was way past his narrative appeal, within which he oozed his soulful flair—his striking good looks only adding to his status as a literary giant.

His influence was not just a matter of individual success but had a broad reach in the midst of the new set of novelists migrating to Brooklyn in the 1990s and thereafter.

Inspiring a Generation

Authors like Meghan O’Rourke, who grew up in nearby Prospect Heights, recall how Auster's works dominated the cultural landscape of their youth, inspiring them with their blend of surrealism and the mundane realities of urban life.

O'Rourke noted, "His books were omnipresent among my parents' friends, and as teenagers, we devoured his stories that felt at once bizarre and intimately familiar." Auster not only nurtured his craft but also the literary community in Brooklyn, positioning himself as both a guardian of its rich narrative history and a mentor to aspiring writers.

That it spread far beyond the limits of his adopted city. So that today a generation of writers has come to consider their profession something physical, practical, and honorable.