US avant guard writer Harry Mathews dies at 86

Breaking News January 26, 2017 22:12

By Agence France-Presse

PARIS - The American writer Harry Mathews -- who helped bring French novelist Georges Perec to worldwide notice -- has died aged 86, his publisher said Thursday.

Mathews, a longtime editor of the Paris Review literary magazine, is best known for his novels "My Life in CIA" (2005) and "The Conversions" (1962).

He spent most of his adult life in Europe and was married to the French artist Niki de Saint Phalle, with whom he had two children, from 1949 to 1961.

It was in Paris that he met Perec, whose novel "A Void" was entirely written without using the letter "e" -- the most common letter in French.

The two became friends, translating each other's books.

Born in New York in 1930, he was also the only American to have been admitted to Oulipo, a celebrated experimental group of French writers and mathematicians who believe constrained writing techniques are the key to invention.

Paul Otchakovsky-Laurens, Mathews' French publisher, said he died on Wednesday in Key West, Florida.

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