Vienna.

Austrian writer Gerhard Roth has died aged 79 in his hometown of Graz.

This was confirmed by the Prime Minister of Styria, Hermann Schützenhöfer, on Tuesday evening. Roth was considered one of the great Austrian storytellers and writers, and at the same time always political.

The author became best known for his seven-part cycle “The Archives of Silence”, on which he worked between 1978 and 1991. The following “Orkus cycle” also received great recognition. More recently he wrote the Venice novel “There is no evil angel but love”. The multiple award-winning writer received the Austrian State Prize in 2016.

Van der Bellen pays tribute to Roth

Austrian Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen hailed the late writer as a “brave and intelligent voice”. “Clearly and coherently he dealt with Austrian history, the bright and often dark sides of our country.”

Following the wishes of his father, who was a doctor, Roth initially studied medicine but dropped out. From 1966 to 1977 he worked as a programmer and organizational manager at the computer center in Graz in order to earn a living alongside his literary work. From the beginning of the 1970s, he published experimental prose (around 1972 “The Autobiography of Albert Einstein”) and also tried his hand as a playwright (“Lichtenberg”, “Longing”, “Twilight”).

A generous advance from a publisher allowed Roth to concentrate entirely on his work on the “Archives of Silence”. In 1980 “The Quiet Ocean” was released here, the film version of which received the Silver Bear at the Berlinale in 1983. The 800-page book “Common Death” published in 1984 is the center of the cycle, consisting of a wide variety of literary genres, in which fiction and documentation (also photographic) mingle.

Enthusiasm for “The Lake” in the 90s

With “Der See”, the first novel in his “Orkus” cycle, Roth caused a sensation in the ranks of the FPÖ in 1995, which recognized its then party leader Jörg Haider as a populist politician who was almost assassinated.

Roth was honored for his literary work as well as for the clear political stance he took in reports, essays and interviews. In 1994 he was awarded the Austrian Bookstore Tolerance Prize. Many other awards followed, such as the Jean Paul Prize in 2015, which is endowed with 15,000 euros. (dpa)