Lustig, Arnost

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LUSTIG, ARNOST (1926– ), Czech writer, screenwriter, and journalist. Born in Prague, Lustig was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1942 and later to a number of others, including Auschwitz and Buchenwald. At the end of the war he managed to escape from the death train and reach Prague, where he later graduated from the School of Political and Social Sciences. Until 1968 he worked as a journalist at various periodicals (he was a war correspondent in Israel in 1948) and a screenwriter. During the brief period of liberalization in Czechoslovakia in 1967–68, Lustig was elected to the Central Committee of the Czechoslovak Writers' Union. After the Soviet invasion in August 1968, he left Czechoslovakia for Israel and Yugoslavia. He ultimately became a professor of the history of literature and film at the American University in Washington.

Lustig's work is based mainly on his tragic experiences in concentration camps and postwar life in his homeland. He made his literary debut with the collection of stories Night and Hope (1958) filmed as Z. Brynych's A Transport from Paradise (1962), and Diamonds in the Night (1958), filmed by J. Němec (1964) – both showing the life of young Jews in the Terezin ghetto. Other short story collections and novels appeared quickly one after the other, such as The Street of Lost Brothers (1959); My Acquaintance Vili Feld (1961); First Destination Happiness (1961); Night and Day (1962); Dita Saxov (1962, filmed by A. Moskalyk, 1967); Thou Shalt Not Humiliate Anyone (1963); A Prayer for Catherine Horowitz (1964), which won the Czech State Prize (1966) and was nominated for the American National Book Award (1973); Waves in the River (1964); White Birches in the Autumn (1966); The Bitter Scent of Almonds (1968); The Lower (1969), set against the Arab-Israeli War of 1948; A Street of the Lost Ones (1973); and From the Diary of Seventeen-Year-Old Perla S. (1979). After the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia and the establishment of the Czech Republic, he published Darkness Casts No Shadow (1991); Colette: A Girl from Antwerp (1992); Tanga: A Girl from Hamburg (1992); House of the Returned Echo (1994); and a number of short stories, such as "Friends"; "Chasm"; and "Fire on the Water."

Lustig wrote Memories, 3 × 18 (2003) and many newspaper articles about the Czech political and cultural scene, including the problems of the Jewish community in the Czech Republic. Much of Lustig's fiction has been translated into several languages. In 2004 he was awarded the Vladislav Vančura Prize. From 2004 Lustig lived in Prague.


Iltis, in: Jewish Quarterly, 13:2 (Summer 1965); J. Čulk, Knihy za ohradou. Česk literatura v exilovch nakladatelstvch 1971 – 1989 (s. d.); A. Haman, Arnost Lustig (1995); A. Mikulsek, Literatura s hvězdou Davidovou, vol. 1 (1998); Slovník českch spisovatelů (1982).

[Avigdor Dagan /

Milos Pojar (2nd ed.)]