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Kosinski, Jerzy

Kosinski, Jerzy

Kosinski, Jerzy, 1933-91, American writer, b. Łódź, Poland. He taught at the Univ. of Łódź before emigrating to the United States in 1957. In his best-known novel, The Painted Bird (1965), the horrors of war and the violation of a human being are rendered in language of remarkable beauty. The novel depicts the nightmarish wanderings of a young boy among brutal peasants in a nameless country during World War II. Kosinski's other novels include Steps (1968, National Book Award), Being There (1971), The Devil Tree (1973), Cockpit (1975), Passion Play (1978), and The Hermit of 69th Street (1988). For several decades the wittily urbane author was a literary, social, and media celebrity. However, during the 1980s Kosinski was shaken by scandal as critics charged that other authors had helped him to write his books and that his supposed roman à clef, The Painted Bird, which had made his personal and literary reputation, was not remotely autobiographical. This discrediting may have been a factor in his suicide. Kosinski also wrote under the name Joseph Novak.

See Jerzy Kosinski: A Biography (1996) by J. Park Sloan.

(born June 14, 1933, Lstrokódź, Pol.—died May 3, 1991, New York, N.Y., U.S.) Polish-born U.S. writer. He claimed that his horrific experiences as a Jew in World War II Poland and Russia caused him to be mute for much of his childhood. He studied political science and became a professor of sociology before immigrating to the U.S. in 1957. His novel The Painted Bird (1965) is a graphic, surrealistic tale of the horrors surrounding the war. Other successful novels were Steps (1968) and the satiric fable Being There (1970; film, 1979). After his suicide, it was revealed that much of his past had been fabricated.

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