Egon Hostowsky

Genres - Spy Film

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Egon Hostowsky (sometimes spelled "Hostovsky") was a major figure in Czech literature from the 1930s to the '60s. The youngest of eight children, he was born into a Jewish family in 1908 in the Bohemian village of Hronov. (His father was part owner of a small textile plant.) Hostowsky studied in Prague and later in Vienna, and became an editor at the Prague-based publishing company Melantrich in the early '30s. He also wrote his own books, including the novels Lost Shadow (1931) and The Arsonist (1935), for which he later received the Czechoslovak State Prize for Literature. He left Czechoslovakia in 1939, ostensibly to deliver a lecture in Brussels. Instead, he went to Paris and then New York, seeking a home far from the occupying Germans. He lived in the United States for the duration of the war, while virtually his entire family died in the Nazi death camps. He tried to make a life for himself in the early postwar, Soviet-dominated Czechoslovakia, and worked for a time in the Foreign Ministry, serving as legal secretary and then chargé d'affaires in the Czech embassy in Norway. In 1949, however, he resigned his job; the following year, he returned permanently to the U.S. Hostowsky became a teacher of the Czech language and a journalist while continuing to write novels. Unlike many other 1930s novelists, he retained his audience in the postwar period and his novels were widely translated. His 1955 book The Midnight Patient, a serio-comic look at Cold War politics and espionage, was far too sophisticated in its wit to interest American producers, but it drew the attention of director Henri-Georges Clouzot, who adapted it into the 1957 thriller Les Espions (The Spies). Hostowsky continued writing into the '60s, and served as an editor at Radio Free Europe for five years. He died in Montclair, NJ, in 1973.