How Did Paul Auster Die? Celebrated Novelist Loses Lung Cancer Battle Aged 77, Two Years after Son and Baby Granddaughter Died from Overdose

Auster went through challenging times in the 1970s when he married and subsequently divorced US short story writer Lydia Davis, with whom he had his son, Daniel.

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Celebrated author Paul Auster has died at the age of 77 after a long battle with lung cancer, just two years after the deaths of his son and granddaughter due to overdoses. Auster, known for his acclaimed novels such as "The New York Trilogy", died on Tuesday, with his death confirmed by his friend and fellow novelist Jacki Lyden.

The American author gained widespread recognition for his "highly stylized, quirkily riddlesome postmodernist fiction in which narrators are rarely other than unreliable and the bedrock of plot is continually shifting,' the novelist Joyce Carol Oates wrote on the late writer in 2010. Several authors paid tribute to Auster following his death.

Death of a Legend

Paul Auster
Paul Auster X

During his career, Auster wrote a total of 34 books, with his latest work, "Baumgartner," being released this year. The news of Auster's death follows a double tragedy in his family just two years ago, when his son Daniel Auster, 44, and his 10-month-old granddaughter Ruby died from drug overdoses.

Daniel was found dead at a subway station, surrounded by drug paraphernalia, just four days after his April 16, 2022, arrest for the manslaughter of his daughter.

He was arrested following the November 1, 2021, death of his 10-month-old daughter Ruby, who died from a fentanyl overdose after Daniel had consumed heroin and then taken a nap with the child by his side.

Daniel was released on bond on April 17 by Brooklyn Judge John Hecht, who required a $100,000 cash bail or $250,000 bond. It remains unclear who met these bond requirements.

On April 20, he overdosed on the subway platform of the northbound G train at the Washington Avenue/Clinton Street stop in New York City.

At his arraignment hearing on manslaughter charges, Assistant District Attorney Tien Tran shared a vivid account of Ruby's death allegedly provided by Daniel just days earlier.

Ruby's mother, Zuzan Smith, told police that their daughter was awake and alert when she left her in Daniel's care and went to work.

A few days after Ruby's death, an autopsy conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that she had died of acute intoxication resulting from the combined effects of fentanyl and heroin.

Strained Relationship with Son

Paul Auster
Paul Auster X

Although Daniel and his father appeared to have an estranged relationship, Auster included his son in his literary works. In his 2004 novel, "Oracle Night," Auster portrays a character named Trause, who narrates the book and whose son is shown as a drug addict who terrorizes his stepmother.

Auster was raised in Newark, New Jersey, as the son of Jewish Polish immigrants.

After graduating from Columbia University in New York, he spent four years in France, where he supported himself through translations while refining his skills as a writer.

Auster went through challenging times in the 1970s when he married and subsequently divorced US short story writer Lydia Davis, with whom he had his son, Daniel.

The turning point in Auster's life came with the sudden death of his father, which inspired him to write "The Invention of Solitude," a poignant exploration of father-son relationships—a theme that recurs in much of Auster's work.

Published in 1982, the book was a critical success and marked a breakthrough in Auster's writing career.

That same year, Auster married Siri Hustvedt, forming one of New York's most prominent intellectual couples. Together, they shared a daughter named Sophie, who went on to become a singer and actor.

In 2006, Auster was honored with Spain's Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature. Additionally, in 1993, he received the Prix Médicis Étranger for his novel "Leviathan."