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Author Jacques Chessex dies at 75

Jacques Chessex, one of Switzerland's most renowned authors, died of a heart attack on Friday. He was 75.

The author and prolific painter collapsed during a public discussion about a play adapted from his work in Yverdon-les-Bains, canton Vaud. He died shortly afterwards.

Chessex in 1973 became the first non-French citizen to win the prestigious Prix Goncourt for his novel, The Ogre, a largely autobiographical tale of a troubled father-son relationship. Chessex's father killed himself in 1956.

Born on March 1, 1934, in Payerne in French-speaking Switzerland, Chessex sparked much debate this year after publishing A Jew Must Die, a book that recounted the 1942 killing of a cattleman in his hometown.

Hans-Rudolf Merz, the Swiss president, paid homage to Chessex by calling him "a prominent figure of 20th century French-speaking Swiss literature".

"Explorer of the human soul in all its complexity, Jacques Chessex will remain one of the major French-language literary talents of our era," he said.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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