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Leading Dutch writer Mulisch dies

AMSTERDAM: Dutch writer HARRY MULISCH, author of The Assault and The Discovery of Heaven, died of cancer on Saturday in his Amsterdam home at the age of 83.

Prime Minister MARK RUTTE yesterday called his death "a loss for Dutch literature and the Netherlands."

And Culture minister HALBE ZIJLSTRA said he was the last of the 'Big Three' writers with GERARD REVE and WILLEM FREDERIK HERMANS, both deceased.

Mulisch was often considered, in the Netherlands, a candidate for the Nobel Prize for literature.

He wrote more than 30 books and The Discovery of Heaven was named the 'Best Dutch Book Ever' by a jury of newspaper readers in 2007.

Born on July 29, 1929 in Haarlem, Mulisch wrote his first major bestseller The Assault about an act of resistance in the Second World War.

It dared to discuss the questions of wrong and right during the war as several innocent people get killed in retaliation for the death of a collaborator.

The book was published in 1982 when the war-time generation was still healing from its traumas.

It reflects Mulisch' own war torment as his father had collaborated with the German occupiers.

Mulisch's Jewish mother died in a camp.

The Discovery of Heaven was published in 1992.

It is a cerebral work in which Mulisch related how God, disappointed with humanity, sends a new envoy to the world to restore some moral order.

Mulisch was a lank, bespectacled man hardly ever seen without a pipe in his mouth.

He was regularly seen in TV shows and events.

He was also famous for his early self-publicity stunts.

As a young writer, Mulisch would call the then trendy Americain Hotel at the central Leidseplein square, and ask for Mr Mulisch.

A member of staff would then call around "telephone for Mr Mulisch" and thereby make publicity for his name.



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