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National Book Foundation > Author > Louis Begley
Louis Begley is an American novelist. Begley was born Ludwik Begleiter in Stryi at the time part of Poland and now in Ukraine, as the only child of a physician. He is a survivor of the Holocaust due to the multiple purchases of Aryan papers by his mother and constant evasion of the Nazis. More about this author >
Louis Begley is an American novelist.
Begley was born Ludwik Begleiter in Stryi at the time part of Poland and now in Ukraine, as the only child of a physician. He is a survivor of the Holocaust due to the multiple purchases of Aryan papers by his mother and constant evasion of the Nazis. They survived by pretending to be Polish Catholic. The family left Poland in the fall of 1946 and settled in New York in March 1947. Begley studied English Literature at Harvard College (AB ’54, summa cum laude), and published in the Harvard Advocate. Service in the United States Army followed. In 1956 Begley entered Harvard Law School and graduated in 1959 (LL.B. magna cum laude).
Upon graduation from Law School, Begley joined the New York firm of Debevoise & Plimpton as an associate; became a partner in January 1968; became of counsel in January 2004; and retired in January 2007. From 1993 to 1995, Begley was also president of PEN American Center. He remains a member of PEN’s board of directors, as well as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
His wife of 30 years, Anka Muhlstein, was honoured by the French Academy for her work on La Salle, and received critical acclaim for her book A Taste for Freedom: The Life of Astolphe de Custine.
His first novel, Wartime Lies, was written in 1989. It won the PEN/Hemingway Award for a first work of fiction in 1991. The French version, Une éducation polonaise, won the Prix Médicis International in 1992. He has also won several German literature prizes, including the Jeanette Schocken Prize in 1995 and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation Literature Prize in 2000.
His novel About Schmidt was adapted into a major motion picture starring Jack Nicholson.