Agota Kristof  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Ágota Kristóf (October 30, 1935 - July 27, 2011) was a Hungarian writer, who lived in Switzerland and wrote in French. Kristof received the European prize for French literature for The Notebook (1986). She won the 2001 Gottfried Keller Award in Switzerland and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature in 2008.



Kristof was born on October 30 1935. At the age of 21 she had to leave her country when the Hungarian anti-communist revolution was suppressed by the Soviet military. She, her husband (who used to be her history teacher at school) and their 4 months old daughter escaped to Neuchâtel in Switzerland. After 5 years of loneliness and exile, she quit her work in a factory and left her husband. She started studying French and began to write novels in that language.


Agota Kristof's first steps as a writer were in the realm of poetry and theater (John et Joe, Un rat qui passe), which is a facet of her works that did not have as great an impact as her trilogy. In 1986 Kristof’s first novel, The Notebook appeared. It was the beginning of a moving trilogy. The sequel titled The Proof came 2 years later. The third part was published in 1991 under the title The Third Lie. The most important themes of this trilogy are war and destruction, love and loneliness, desire and loss, truth and fiction.

Agota Kristof received the European prize for French literature for The Notebook. This novel was translated in more than 30 languages.

In 1995 she published a new novel, Yesterday.

Agota Kristof also wrote a book called L'analphabète (in English The Illiterate) and published in 2004. This is an autobiographical text. It explores her love of reading as a young child, and we travel with her to boarding school, and over the border to Austria, and then to Switzerland. Forced to leave her country due to the failure of the anti-communist rebellion, she hopes for a better life in Zurich.

Her last work is a collection of short stories entitled C'est égal that was published in 2005 in Paris. The majority of her works were published by Editions du Seuil in Paris.


  • Shigesato Itoi, creator of the Mother videogame series, was heavily influenced by The Notebook; it inspired the third installment of his series, Mother 3. The main characters of the game, Claus and Lucas, are based on the books.


  • 1986: Le Grand Cahier / The Notebook
  • 1988: La Preuve / The Proof
  • 1991: Le Troisième mensonge / The Third Lie
  • 1998: L'Heure grise et autres pièces
  • 1995: Hier / Yesterday
  • 2004: L’analphabète
  • 2005: C'est égal

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Agota Kristof" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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