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Jorge Semprun

Jorge Semprun

Courtesy of Itziar Guzman

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Jorge Semprun, who was born in Madrid in 1923, fled with his family to France during the Spanish Civil War. He joined the French Resistance when aged seventeen and, after being captured by the Gestapo, was deported to Buchenwald, where he took part in the armed uprising that liberated the camp in April 1945. He worked as a translator in post-war Paris and then returned to Spain in the 1950s as a clandestine organiser for the Communist Party, an experience he later described in The Autobiography of Federico Sánchez, for which he received one of the country's leading literary awards, the Premio Planeta.

Expelled from the Communist Party in 1964 because of his anti-Stalinist views, he became a full-time writer in both French and Spanish, with highly acclaimed books including The Second Death of Ramón Mercader, What a Beautiful Sunday!, Literature or Life and, most recently, Veinte años y un día, a fictional exploration of the lingering consequences of the Spanish Civil War. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages.

Jorge Semprun's film-scripts include Z and The Confession, both directed by Constantin Costa-Gavras, La Guerre est finie, for Alain Resnais, which, like Z, was nominated for an Oscar, and Les Routes du sud, for Joseph Losey. The winner of numerous international literary awards, he has been a member of the Académie Goncourt, the jury of France's most prestigious literary prize, since 1996. He was Spain's Minister of Culture between 1988 and 1991. When he died in June 2011, Mario Vargas Llosa wrote that, "Like Albert Camus, his literature was filled with great moral preoccupation."

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