New York (AFP) – The wife of US writer Paul Auster, who died due to lung cancer complications, said Thursday that her family was “robbed” of “dignity” after a friend quickly confirmed his death to media outlets.

The New York Times, citing a friend of the couple, published a story of Auster’s passing hours after his death on Tuesday, with other outlets following suit with similar reports.

“I was naive, but I had imagined that I would be the person to announce the death of my husband,” Siri Hustvedt, an esteemed novelist, wrote on Instagram.


“He died with us, his family, around him on April 30, 2024 at 6:58 PM,” Hustvedt said.

“Sometime later, I discovered that even before his body had been taken from our house, the news of his death was circulating on media and obituaries had been posted,” she added.

Hustvedt revealed in March 2023 that Auster, whose works included “The New York Trilogy,” had been diagnosed with lung cancer.

The New York Times — the first news outlet to announce Auster’s death — cited family friend and American journalist Jacki Lyden as its source, though Hustvedt did not refer to her or the newspaper directly.

Hustvedt wrote on Instagram: “Not one of us was able to call or email the people dear to us before the shouting online began. We were robbed of that dignity.

“I do not know the full story about how this happened, but I know this: It is wrong.”

Hustvedt added: “Paul never left Cancerland. It turned out to be, in Kierkegaard’s words, the sickness unto death,” referencing the 19th-century Danish philosopher.

He made his name with noirish, existentialist novels about lonely writers, outsiders and down-and-outers that were a huge hit in Europe particularly.

The author gained cult status in the 1980s and 1990s with his “New York Trilogy” of metaphysical mysteries and his hip film “Smoke,” about the lost souls who frequent a Brooklyn tobacco shop.