Budapest, July 14 (MTI) – Péter Esterházy, one of Hungary’s most widely-known contemporary writers, died on Thursday at the age of 66, the author’s family and publisher told MTI.
Esterhazy had suffered from pancreatic cancer.
A descendant of a comital branch of the aristocratic Esterházy family, he was born in Budapest on April 14, 1950. His grandfather, Móric Esterházy, served as Hungary’s prime minister for a brief period in 1917.
Esterházy’s first major success came in 1979 with the release of the novella “Termelési regeny” (“Novel of Production”), a satire of socialist production.
Starting from the early 1980s, Esterházy published novellas on a yearly basis including “Kis Magyar Pornografia” (“A Little Hungarian Pornography”), “Daisy” (“Daisy”) and “A szív segédigéi” (“Helping Verbs of the Heart”).
Esterházy released his first collection of essays in 1988 under the title “A kitömött hattyú” (“The Stuffed Swan”). He also achieved great success in 2000 with the novel entitled “Harmonia Caelestis” (“Celestial Harmonies”), which chronicles his family’s history from the time of the Austro-Hungarian empire to the rise of communism. In the novel “Javított kiadás” (“Revised Edition”), which was published two years after “Harmonia Caelestis” and served as an appendix to it, Esterházy discusses his father’s reports from when he was working as a secret agent in the communist era.
Esterházy also achieved considerable success as a playwright. His best-known plays include “Rubens és a nemeuklideszi asszonyok” (“Rubens and the Non-Euclidean Ladies”, 2006), “Harminchárom változat Haydn-koponyára” (“Thirty-three Variations of Haydn’s Skull”, 2009) and “Én vagyok a Te” (“I Am You”, 2010). Several of his works were also adapted to film.
Esterházy was a member of the Széchenyi Academy of Literature and Arts and the Academy of Arts of Berlin. He received numerous awards and honours throughout his career. In 1996 he was awarded the prestigious Kossuth Prize and in 1999 he received the Austrian State Prize. In 2001, he was awarded the Hungarian Literature Prize for “Harmonia Caelestis”. In 2002, he received Austria’s Herder-Prize. At the 2004 Frankfurt Book Fair, he was awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, one of Germany’s most prestigious literature prizes. Two years later, he received the Prima Primissima Award. In 2009, the Austrian culture ministry presented him with the Manes-Sperber literary prize and he was named honorary citizen of Budapest in the same year.
In 2010, he received Romania’s Order of Cultural Merit as well as the International Masi Prize. In 2011, he was presented with the AEGON Art Prize and in 2013 the Premio Mondello award.
In a statement, the human resources ministry called Esterházy’s death a serious loss to Hungarian and world literature.
President Áder voices condolences to Esterházy family
Budapest, July 15 (MTI) – President János Áder has sent his condolences in a letter to the family of author Péter Esterházy.
The press chief of the president told MTI on Friday that it was up to the family to decide whether the letter would be published.
On Friday evening, readers and fellow-authors will hold a vigil and read out passages from Esterházy’s works in the garden of the Petőfi Literary Museum in Budapest.
Simultaneously, a similar event will be held in the main square of Sfantu Gheorghe (Sepsiszentgyörgy), in central Romania, to pay tribute to the author.