John le Carre, the British writer best known for his Cold War espionage novels Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, has died aged 89, his agent said Sunday, December 13.
The author, whose real name was David Cornwell, wrote 25 novels and one memoir in a career spanning 6 decades, selling some 60 million books worldwide.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was adapted for television in 1979, with Alec Guinness starring as George Smiley, and became a classic. Gary Oldman reprised the role in the 2011 film, winning an Oscar the following year.
Le Carre’s last novel, Agent Running in the Field, was published in October 2019.
His wife of nearly 50 years, Jane, and sons Nicholas, Timothy, Stephen and Simon, said in a statement he died from pneumonia on Saturday night, December 12, after a short battle with the illness.
“We all grieve deeply his passing,” they said, thanking staff at the hospital in Cornwall, southwest England, for their care. “We know they share our sadness,” they added.
The novelist Robert Harris called Le Carre “one of those writers who really was not only a brilliant writer but he also penetrated popular culture – and that’s a great rarity.”
Harris told Sky News television Le Carre was a “brilliant novelist” and said The Spy Who Came In From The Cold was a “masterpiece.”
“It’s an incredibly engrossing tale and very deep, and it transformed the writing of spy fiction. It was a brilliant, psychological portrait of spying and of betrayal and of the decline of British power.”
Jonny Geller, Le Carre’s literary agent, said: “His like will never be seen again, and his loss will be felt by every book lover, everyone interested in the human condition.”
“We have lost a great figure of English literature, a man of great wit, kindness, humor and intelligence. I have lost a friend, a mentor and an inspiration.”
Publisher Penguin Random House remembered Le Carre for his “celebrated career as an author and chronicler of our age.” While he started his career as an espionage writer, the publishing house said “his works transcended the genre and he won widespread international acclaim as a humanitarian, as well as a literary giant.”
Le Carre’s most recent award was the 2020 Olof Palme Prize, which was given to him to honor his body of work. – with reports/Rappler.com
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