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Author Maurice Chappaz dies

One of French-speaking Switzerland's best known authors, Maurice Chappaz, has died at the age of 92.

Chappaz died in hospital in Martigny, in the southern canton of Valais on Thursday, his family said.

In his long writing career he published over 40 works and won several literary awards, including Switzerland's main prize, the Grand Prix Schiller, in 1997.

The Valais area was a central subject of his writing. He once said he loved the mountains as a man loves a woman, and he hated the way they were marketed for tourism purposes. He was famous for his polemics with those he believed were selling out his homeland.

He was also known as a poet, traveller and translator.

His breakthrough as a writer came in 1965, with the publication of "Le Chant de la Grande-Dixence" (The Song of the Grand Dixence) and "Portrait des Valaisans" (Portrait of People of Valais). His last book appeared in 2008.

Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin, who comes from Valais himself, told the Swiss news agency of his great sadness at the news of Chappaz' death.

"All those who have read him and discover Valais have a richer and deeper conception of our country," he said.

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