Hungarian author Peter Esterhazy dies aged 66

Peter Esterhazy in June 2016, during the opening ceremony of the 87th Festive Book Week, an annual festival of Hungarian books.
Peter Esterhazy in June 2016, during the opening ceremony of the 87th Festive Book Week, an annual festival of Hungarian books.PHOTO: EPA

BUDAPEST (AFP) - Hungarian novelist Peter Esterhazy, widely regarded as one of the leading figures of 20th century Hungarian literature, died aged 66 on Thursday (July 14) after a long battle with pancreatic cancer his publisher said.

His works, many of which examined aspects life in a communist regime, were translated into more than 20 languages.

"The family and Magveto Publishing inform with deep sorrow that in the afternoon hours of July 14, 2016, Peter Esterhazy passed away," said the publisher's head Krisztian Nyary in a statement sent to the MTI news agency.

"It is difficult to imagine Hungarian literature or public life without him, he was such an important part of both, particularly in the later decades of the 20th century," Nyary told AFP.

Esterhazy was born in 1950 into a Hungarian aristocratic family dispossessed of its wealth by the Communist regime that came to power in Hungary in 1948.

He is best known for his Harmonia Caelestis novel (2000), which traces his family history.

After revealing his cancer diagnosis in an interview last October, he entered hospital in May.

Last month, however, he was still able to open a prestigious Budapest book fair, where he presented his last work which portrayed his battle with the illness.