Arnošt Lustig was a renowned Czech Jewish author of novels, short stories, plays, and screenplays whose works often involved the Holocaust.
Lustig was born in Prague. As a Jewish boy in Czechoslovakia during World War II, he was sent in 1942 to the concentration camps in Theresienstadt, then Auschwitz, followed by time in the Buchenwald camp. In 1945, he escaped from a train carrying him to the Dachau concentration camp when the engine was destroyed by an American fighter-bomber. He returned to Prague in time to take part in the May 1945 uprising against the German occupation.
After the war, he studied journalism at Charles University in Prague and then worked for a number of years at Radio Prague. He worked as a journalist in Israel at the time of its War of Independence and was one of the major critics of the Communist regime. Following the Soviet-led invasion that ended the Prague Spring in 1968, he left the country, first to Yugoslavia, then Israel and later in 1970 to the United States.
He spent the academic year 1970-71 as a scholar in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. After the fall of communist regime in Czechoslovakia in 1989, he divided his time between Prague and Washington, D.C., where he continued to teach at the American University. After his retirement from the American University in 2003, he became a full-time resident of Prague. He was given an apartment in the Prague Castle by then President Václav Havel and honored for his contributions to Czech culture on his 80th birthday in 2006. In 2008, Lustig became the eighth recipient of the Franz Kafka Prize and the third recipient of the Karel Čapek Prize in 1996.
His most renowned books are A Prayer For Katerina Horowitzowa (published and nominated for a National Book Award in 1974), Dita Saxová (1962, tr. 1979 as Dita Saxova), Night and Hope (1957, tr. 1985), and Lovely Green Eyes (2004).
Arnošt Lustig was shortlisted for The Man Booker International Prize 2009.
Between 2005 - 2015, the Man Booker International Prize recognised one writer for their achievement in fiction.
Worth £60,000, the prize was awarded every two years to a living author who had published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language.
The winner was chosen solely at the discretion of the judging panel and there were no submissions from publishers.
The Man Booker International Prize was different from the annual Man Booker Prize for Fiction in that it highlighted one writer’s overall contribution to fiction on the world stage. In focusing on overall literary excellence, the judges considered a writer’s body of work rather than a single novel.