Dominique Lapierre, French author and journalist, dies at 91

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French writer Dominique Lapierre, who was celebrated for his novels about the Second World War struggle to liberate Paris and depicting a life of hardship in a Kolkata slum, has died.

He was 91.

Lapierre died on Friday, a local newspaper in southern France reported on Monday, citing an interview with the author’s wife Dominique Conchon-Lapierre.

French culture minister Rima Abdul Malak praised Lapierre as an author and journalist whose travels around the world – from Mexico to India and New York City to Jerusalem – made him an “eyewitness of the 20th century” and enriched his novels with facts.

“We have lost a great writer, who was generous in his texts and was generous in his life,” Ms Abdul Malak said in a statement.

In 1964, Lapierre drew on archived material to co-author with American writer Larry Collins a novel about the liberation of the French capital in August 1944.

The novel, titled Is Paris Burning?, was made into a movie by French filmmaker Rene Clement.

Gore Vidal and Francis Ford Coppola were listed among a group of screenplay writers.

Lapierre was born in 1931 in the western French city of Chatelaillon to a diplomat father and a mother who had worked as a journalist.

In the 1950s, Lapierre worked as a journalist and a foreign correspondent for Paris-Match.

He lived most of his life in the French Riviera town of Ramatuelle with Ms Conchon-Lapierre, his wife of 56 years.

Lapierre had a special bond with India and spent a lot of time in Kolkata, a city nicknamed The City Of Joy after his 1985 novel with that title.

The book, which chronicled the life of a rickshaw puller in a Kolkata slum, was adapted by Roland Joffe into a 1992 film.

He also donated generously to several charities engaged in humanitarian work in Kolkata.

Two of his other books – Freedom At Midnight and Five Past Midnight In Bhopal: The Epic Story Of The World’s Deadliest Industrial Disaster, were also set in India.

Lapierre was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian award, in 2008.

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