Leading Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafon, whose Barcelona-based mystery The Shadow of the Wind was an international bestseller, died today aged 55, his publishing house said.
The author of eight novels, his works have been translated into 40 languages and have sold over 38 million copies worldwide.
“Today Carlos Ruiz Zafon has died, one of the best contemporary novelists. We will remember you forever, Carlos!” Planeta publishing house wrote on Twitter.
The publishing house also said that the author had died at his Los Angeles home after battling cancer. “He will live on among us through his books,” it added.
Written in 2001, The Shadow of the Wind was his best-known work and considered one of the most successful Spanish novels of recent decades. The book became the most read Spanish novel after Miguel de Cervantes’ classic Don Quixote. Critics often compared him to Charles Dickens for his dense, Gothic style, fast-paced intrigue and colourful characters.
In their statement, Planeta quoted a line from the novel when its protagonist Daniel Sempere is first shown the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a labyrinthine, mystical library around which the story is woven.
“Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”
Set in Ruiz Zafon’s native Barcelona in the wake of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) in which Sempere tries to unravel the mystery surrounding the author of a certain book, Shadow of the Wind was an immediate hit.
It has since been translated into some 50 languages, selling millions of copies and becoming the first of a quartet of novels in his Cemetery of Forgotten Books series.
The last book, The Labyrinth of Spirits, was published in 2016, two years before he was diagnosed with cancer.
At the time of the last book’s release, the author had explained why he had never let any of his works be adapted for cinema. “For me, these books are a homage to literature, to the written word. For that reason, transforming them for the cinema or television would be a betrayal,” he said.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez hailed Ruiz Zafon’s work and expressed sorrow over his passing.
“We have lost one of the most well-read and admired Spanish authors in the world. Carlos Ruiz Zafon, the novelist of reference for our era, left a great mark on modern literature,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Thank you for transporting us through your stories.”
Born in Barcelona in 1964, Carlos Ruiz Zafon studied at a religious school then earned a degree in information sciences.
He was a lover of books since childhood, but he didn’t publish his first novel until he was nearly 30 after leaving a career in advertising. His books were largely based in Barcelona but he lived in Los Angeles for over 3 decades.
-- with inputs from AFP and Reuters
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