A Yugoslav novelist, essayist, poet, and translator, whose work generated storms of controversy in his homeland, Danilo Kiš holds today classic status. His works have been prized by international readership drawn to the innovative brilliance and to the profound meditation it holds on history, culture, and the human condition at the end of the twentieth century. Kiš was born in Subotica, Yugoslavia (now Serbia) in 1935, son of Eduard Kiš, a Hungarian Jewish railway inspector. During the Second World War, Danilo’s father, along with several other family members, were killed in various Nazi camps. His mother took him and his older sister Danica to Hungary. After the end of the war, the family moved to Cetinje (today in Montenegro), where Kiš graduated from high school in 1954. Kiš studied literature at the University of Belgrade and graduated in 1958 as the first student to complete a degree in comparative literature there. He was a prominent member of Vidici (Views) magazine, where he worked until 1960. In 1962 he published his first two novels, The Attic and Psalm 44. For his 1973 novel, Hourglass, Kiš received the prestigious NIN Award but returned it a few years later due to a political dispute. During the following years, he received various national and international awards for his prose and poetry. Among his most famous works is the 1983 collection of short stories, The Encyclopedia of the Dead, his last book to be published in his lifetime. Kiš lived in Belgrade, and during his final years spent his time between Paris and Belgrade. He was married twice. In 1989 Kiš died in Paris of lung cancer.
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