Arnost Lustig (1926-2011)

Over the weekend came the sad news that Arnost Lustig had passed away. Although the links I’ve begun to collect here can give you a few points of knowledge about him, it’s not possible for me to transmit his vitality and extraordinarily sunny outlook here. I wish I had that talent.

I will try to update this page regularly as an ongoing tribute to Arnost.

  • Obituary from the Western Michigan University English Department. For many years, Arnost taught in WMU’s Prague Summer Program. That is where I had the great privilege to meet him in 2004, when I attended PSP and enrolled in Arnost’s fiction class, an experience I alluded to just last month.
  • “We all will miss the personality of his talent and his personal and artistic qualities,” said Czech president Vaclav Klaus (quoted in the Prague Daily Monitor).
  • “Hundreds of People Commemorate Late Czech Jewish Writer Lustig”.
  • Square Books of Oxford, Miss., recalls Arnost’s work and “a memorable reading” that he gave at its former site in 1996.
  • Author Leslie Pietrzyk recalls one of her first writing teachers: Arnost Lustig.
  • Former student Ben Krull remembers Arnost–and his extraordinary optimism–for The Jewish Week.
  • Tim Chilcote, Arnost’s former student and teaching assistant, shares his reflections.
  • Obituary from The Washington Post (Arnost was a retired American University professor).
  • Obituary from The New York Times.
  • Obituary from The Independent.
  • Obituary on Colophon (book blog of The Prague Post).
  • Obituary from the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences.
  • Obituary from JTA (please scroll down).
  • Obituary from Variety, with attention to film adaptations of Arnost’s novels and Arnost’s own appearance in the documentary, Fighter (which was screened for our PSP cohort back in 2004, with Arnost present to discuss).
  • Radio Praha feature, “Arnošt Lustig behind the counter at the Franz Kafka book shop in Prague” (2010).
  • Ynet profile (2010).
  • Radio Praha feature, “Arnost Lustig: Love in the Proximity of Death” (2007). Interview with the author and discussion of some of his works.
  • Arnost Lustig reads from Lovely Green Eyes and is interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air (2002).
  • Interview in Central Europe Review (2001).
  • Books and Writers page.
  • 2 thoughts on “Arnost Lustig (1926-2011)

    1. Dear Erika Dreifus,

      Excuse my poor English. Until lately I have not any idea that some person named Arnošt Lusting existed. After Czech television announced his death, I was curious and had observed some short films about his life in the same television and then I started to like him. His life was terrible – Czech citizen with Jewish origin went to German concentration camp and then after defeat of Hitler he must lived outside of his country – behind Iron curtain. Very sad life. And now he is dead. I feel some sorrow for his unhappy life.

      Dear Erika,

      Mr. Arnošt Lusting was Jew, so his Fate in 20th century is very similar to nearly a half of the Jewish nation, who went thorough German concentrations camps, Russian Gulags and were killed – only very small part of them survived. To understand what that Jewish nation means for all of us – Christians, I had read a lot of books. But one of them written by Paul Johnson – “The History of the Jews” is the best what I ever had read about principles of Jewish belief and Jewish history. And his book helped me understand my own life in the time of Communist rule. It was at a time of my 5 year’s unemployment (after strike in mine Lubenik in the year 1999 I was kicked out of my work) that had led me to study world history (after fall of Bolshevism in the year 1989 and in 1991 emerged a lot of books very nicely describing all events of 20th century) and understand my own behavior and behavior of all nations. 10 years ago I started to write my own book about world history.

      But surprisingly I had found, that most of the ideas of Niccolo Machiavelli, written 500 years ago are still valid. I seemed to me that the best way how to explain my ideas is to continue in the work after 500 years of breakage. So I named my book after Nicollo Machavelli´s famous book “The Prince” – “The prince IInd”.

      I am old man, last year I had reached 60, I had come thorough some dangerous life situation too. My Fate is maybe strange too, but not so strange as that one of Arnošt Lusting. I am from Slovak republic in Europe (former Czechoslovakia) and now I am working in Malaysia, on island Borneo as a mining engineer and a Deputy of Mine Manager I am directing an exploitation of deposits of brown – soft coal in Merit-Pila coalfield.

      But what is more important – it seems to me that after 10 years I am was discovering something very important in history – all evilness of 20th century goes to the time of Fatima miracle. All events of that Fatima miracle are closely connected with events of World War One in years 1914 – 1918. So together with explaining of problems of history I am proving an existence of God himself. For this reason sometimes I am feeling terribly weak, sick, stupid . . .

      Here is a title of my book . . .

      Niccolo Machiavelli 500 years ago in his book „The Prince“ had written this . . .

      . . . I am not unaware that many believe that the things of this world are governed to such an extend by Fortune and God that men, with all their foresight, cannot change them, that in fact there is no improving them. Those who believe this deem that they that need not toil and sweat, but can let themselves be governed by Fortune. This opinion has been more prevalent in our time because of great upheavals that we have witnessed and witness every day, and which are beyond anything we could have foreseen and there had been times when even I have to some extend inclined to this opinion. Nevertheless, Fortune seems to be the arbiter of half of our actions, but she does leave us the other half, or almost the half, in order that our free will may prevail.

      But after searching 20th century, mainly historical events which happened after October 13, 1917, (November 7, 1917) my conclusion is enhancing that opinion of Niccolo Machiavelli. God or Fortune is working on us not in 50%, but much more less – maybe 10%, maybe only 1%, then all the rest is result of our Free Will.

      The Prince II. – „The First“ and „The Last“ War,

      or . . .

      . . . The Cronicle of an Insane man – A feeling of God and an attempt to find a logic in human history in the chain of events in a period of time May 13, 1917 – (October 13, 1917) – 1989 (1991).

      A continuation in the work of Niccolo Machiavelli after 500 years and enhancing of his understanding of history by adding a philosophy of Paul Johnson and a philosophy of Fatima miracle.


      As we can see in the events of Fatima miracle, God is not allmighty, He is helpless aginst infinite human stupidity.

      This book had been written on occasion of : 100th anniversary of superstupid War World One (1914)
      100th anniversary of Fatima miracle (1917)
      500th anniversary of top development of reneisance in the personality of Michalangelo
      500th anniversary of reformation in the personality of Martin Luther (1517)
      500th anniversary of writting the book „The Prince“ (1513)
      500th anniversary of writting the book „Uthopia“ (1516)
      500th anniversary of beginning of the world science in the personality of Copernicus, when in Italy before the year 1 500 he aquinted himself with a theory of Aristarchois from Samu
      1 400th anniversary of of origin of Islam
      2 000th anniversary of of origin of Christianity

      For now it is all.

      With high regards

      Juraj Gánovský, Slovak republic, town Revúca

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