Kosinski, Jerzy (1933-1991)

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Kosinski, Jerzy (1933-1991)

Polish-born popular American author of two sociological studies and nine novels, survivor of the Holocaust, husband of the heiress to the U.S. Steel fortune, avid sportsman, college lecturer, sex club connoisseur—Jerzy Kosinski lived a life as fantastic as his fiction. After winning critical acclaim for The Painted Bird (1965) and Steps (1968), Kosinski turned increasingly to popular American culture—and to himself—as the subject of his novels. The wickedly satirical Being There (1971) became a hit film, also scripted by Kosinski; but later novels like Cockpit, Blind Date, and Pinball, some of which made best-seller lists, sounded false and repetitive notes with the critics. Controversy surrounding the authorship of his books plagued Kosinski in his last years, and it became the topic of his final "auto-fictional" novel The Hermit of 69th Street (1988). Nevertheless, Kosinski (who committed suicide in 1991) continues to be read and regarded as a major force in contemporary American fiction.

—Barbara Tepa Lupack

Further Reading:

Klinkowitz, Jerome. Literary Disruptions: The Making of a Post-contemporary American Fiction. Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1975.

Lavers, Norman. Jerzy Kosinski. Boston, Twayne, 1982.

Lilly, Paul R., Jr. Words in Search of Victims: The Achievement of Jerzy Kosinski. Kent, Ohio, Kent State University Press, 1988.

Lupack, Barbara Tepa. Plays of Passion, Games of Chance: Jerzy Kosinski and His Fiction. Bristol, United Kingdom, Wyndham Hall/Rhodes-Fulbright International Library, 1988.

Sloan, James Park. Jerzy Kosinski: A Biography. New York, Dutton, 1996.