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'City Of Joy' author Dominique Lapierre in 2008. Photo: CARLOS ALVAREZ/GETTY IMAGE
'City Of Joy' author Dominique Lapierre in 2008. Photo: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

'City Of Joy' author Dominique Lapierre passes away

The author, with more than 50 million copies sold worldwide, passed away at the age of 91

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In 1992, the film The City of Joy was released in theaters. The film, a box-office hit starring Patrick Swayze, tells the story of an American doctor who, after suffering a depression crisis, decides to leave medicine and travel to Calcutta, India in search of a meaning for his life. There, he will encounter the harsh reality of social inequality, poverty and leprosy. 

The film was based on the novel of the same name by Dominique Lapierre, a celebrated French best-selling author who died on Nov. 2, 2022, at the age of 91.

The City of Joy, written in 1982, tells the story of the inhabitants of a slum in Calcutta, where the French author lived for two years. During that time, he and his wife, with the support of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, set up a humanitarian foundation to fight poverty in the country and, in particular, to help children suffering from leprosy. 

Since its publication, the novel has sold more than 12 million copies around the world.

In 2005, Lapierre claimed that, thanks to his royalties, readers' donations and income from lectures given around the world, his humanitarian work "had made it possible to cure a million tuberculosis patients, treat 9,000 leprous children, build 540 drinking water wells and assemble four hospital ships in the Ganges delta in India in 24 years."

city of joy dominique lapierre

Among his other literary successes are A Thousand Suns, Freedom at Midnight, Five Past Midnight in Bhopal and Beyond Love, several of them in collaboration with fellow American writer and journalist Larry Collins.

It was with Collins that he wrote Is Paris Burning? (1966), adapted for the cinema under the direction of René Clement. Is Paris Burning? is an account of the Liberation of Paris from Nazi troops on Aug. 25, 1944, read by 20 million readers in 30 international editions. The film starred two movie stars, Jean-Paul Belmondo and Kirk Douglas. Americans Francis Ford Coppola and Gore Vidal co-wrote the screenplay.

Born on July 30, 1931 in Châtelaillon, France, to a diplomat father and journalist mother, the writer was also a reporter during the 1950s for Paris Match, which allowed him to travel to the most troubled places in the world. In fact, Lapierre and Collins met in Guatemala, where he had gone to cover the so-called October Revolution of 1944.

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