But in the end, he manages to resolve the question for himself - more or less. He finally comes to accept his own life, to understand that no matter how bewitched and haunted he is, he has to accept reality as it is, to tolerate the presence of ambiguity within himself.— Paul Auster about the protagonist of The Locked Room, quoted in Martin Klepper, Pynchon, Auster, DeLillo.
Paul Benjamin Auster (born February 3, 1947) is an American Writer and Director whose writing blends absurdism, existentialism, crime fiction, and the search for identity and personal meaning. His notable works include The New York Trilogy (1987), Moon Palace (1989), The Music of Chance (1990), The Book of Illusions (2002), and The Brooklyn Follies (2005). His books have been translated into more than forty languages.
After graduating from Columbia University in 1970, he moved to Paris, France where he earned a living translating French literature. Since returning to the U.S. in 1974, he has published poems, essays, and novels of his own, as well as translations of French Writers such as Stéphane Mallarmé and Joseph Joubert.
Auster and his second wife, Writer Siri Hustvedt (the daughter of professor and scholar Lloyd Hustvedt), were married in 1981, and they live in Brooklyn. Together they have one daughter, Sophie Auster.
The search for identity and personal meaning has permeated Auster's later publications, many of which concentrate heavily on the role of coincidence and random events (The Music of Chance) or increasingly, the relationships between people and their peers and environment (The Book of Illusions, Moon Palace). Auster's heroes often find themselves obliged to work as part of someone else's inscrutable and larger-than-life schemes. In 1995, Auster wrote and co-directed the films Smoke (which won him the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay) and Blue in the Face. Auster's more recent works, Oracle Night (2003), The Brooklyn Follies (2005), and the novella Travels in the Scriptorium, have also met critical acclaim.
"Over the past twenty-five years," opined Michael Dirda in The New York Review of Books in 2008, "Paul Auster has established one of the most distinctive niches in contemporary literature." Dirda also has extolled his loaded virtues in The Washington Post:
Literary critic James Wood, however, offers Auster little praise in his piece "Shallow Graves" in the November 30, 2009, issue of The New Yorker:
As of November 2010, Auster has been at work on a new novel, but has said that in the past few years he has found it harder to come up with ideas: "I used to have a backlog of stories, but a few years ago I found the drawers were empty. I guess I’m getting to the point where I tell myself if I can’t write another book it’s not a tragedy. Does it matter if I publish 16 or 17 novels? Unless it’s absolutely urgent, there’s no point in writing."
In 2012, Auster was quoted as saying in an interview that he would not visit Turkey, in protest of its treatment of journalists. The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan replied: "As if we need you! Who cares if you come or not?" Auster responded: "According to the latest numbers gathered by International PEN, there are nearly one hundred Writers imprisoned in Turkey, not to speak of independent publishers such as Ragıp Zarakolu, whose case is being closely watched by PEN Centers around the world".
Auster's most recent memoir, A Life in Words, will be published in October 2017 by Seven Stories Press. It discusses primarily the craft of writing in relation to Auster's own life, and is based on Auster's dialogues with I.B. Siegumfeldt from 2011 until the book's publication, while the latter was working to found the Center for Paul Auster Studies at the University of Copenhagen.
According to a dissertation by Heiko Jakubzik at the University of Heidelberg, two central influences in Paul Auster's writing are Jacques Lacan's psychoanalysis, and the American transcendentalism of the early to middle 19th century, as exemplified by Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.