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Danilo Kiš

KIŠ, DANILO (1935–1989), Yugoslav author and translator. Born in Subotica, Kis survived the Holocaust and after the war completed high school in Cetinje, Montenegro. He received his B.A. from the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Belgrade. He was a freelance writer, dramaturge in the Belgrade Atelier 212 Theater, and lecturer on Serbo-Croat at various French universities. Kis wrote short stories, novels, essays, dramas, and television screenplays, translated poetry from French and Hungarian. He published The Mansard, Psalm 44 (1962), but made his name with the meditative novel Garden, Ashes (1965 and 1978) in which the fascinating image of his Jewish father who was killed in Auschwitz in 1944 appears for the first time. He went on to publish Early Griefs (1968) and Hourglass (1969) for which he was awarded the 1972 Belgrade NIN magazine prize for the best novel in Yugoslavia.

A master of style, modern in expression, and an outstanding talent, Kis was attacked for his anti-Stalinist book, A Tomb for Boris Davidovich (1976), by a group of Belgrade writers and journalists. His reply was the polemic treatise The Anatomy Lesson (1978). He lived in isolation in Paris, away from public life, but surrounded by friends. In Paris he wrote The Encyclopedia of the Dead (1983). In 1984 he was awarded the Ivo Andrić Prize in Belgrade and in 1989 received the Bruno Schulz Prize in New York. He was a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts and a Chevalier des arts et lettres (Paris, 1986). His works have been translated into English, French, German, Russian, Hungarian, Hebrew, and other languages.

His mother was Montenegrine of the Orthodox faith. When he was five, his mother had him baptized in a Serbian Orthodox Church. His writings are deeply influenced by the Holocaust and his own family's struggle for survival. Despite his use of dialect, his personal inclinations are decidedly cosmopolitan. He visited Israel and was impressed by it, but resented having apparently been described by someone as a non-Jew.

In accordance with his will, he was buried ceremoniously in Saborna Crkva, the primary Serbian Orthodox Church of Belgrade.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.