French writer of Russian origin Henri Troyat dies at 95

Russian-born writer Henri Troyat, who moved to France as a child and became one of the most prolific, popular and respected writers of his adopted country, has died, a fellow writer said. He was 95.

Maurice Druon, a fellow member of the Academie Francaise, announced Troyat's death in Monday's Le Figaro newspaper, where he is a frequent contributor. Troyat, the author of more than 100 works, died overnight Friday-Saturday, the paper said.

"He was a born teller of stories, both true and invented," Druon wrote. "That was what he lived and breathed for. A day without writing seemed like a sin to him."

Born Lev Tarassov, Troyat wrote many biographies of major Russian figures, including Tolstoy, Catherine the Great and Pushkin.

Troyat's fifth novel "L'Araigne" (The Spider), published when he was just 27, won France's top literary prize, the Goncourt. He was inducted into the Academie Francaise in 1959, making him the most long-standing member of the group of 40 so-called "immortals" who safeguard the French language.

Troyat was born in Moscow in 1911, and his family fled Russia during the Revolution, winding up in Paris in 1920. Troyat, who studied law, published his first novel "Faux jour" (False Day) when he was completing his mandatory French military service, the AP says.

After the war, Troyat began writing long, involved tales that many compared to the novels of the 19th century. Many of his books were set in Russia, while others were portraits of French families.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin paid homage to Troyat's attachment both to the French language and to his native Russia. His works "fascinated thousands of readers for 70 years, and will continue to fascinate people," Villepin wrote.

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