Acclaimed Swedish author Per Olov Enquist dies aged 85

Stockholm (AFP) –


Per Olov Enquist, one of Sweden's most acclaimed authors who wrote "The Visit of the Royal Physician," has died aged 85, his family told Swedish media on Sunday.

The patriarch of 20th century Scandinavian literature, Enquist is known for powerful stories that weave his own melancholic life into the dark side of history.

In his novels, plays and essays, he drew heavily on his own experience as an oppressed child in a strictly religious home, an athlete, a journalist and a destructive alcoholic.

Born in 1934 in Hjoggbole in Sweden's far north, his books -- including "The Crystal Eye" (1961), "The Parable Book" (2013), "The Magnetist's Fifth Winter" (1964) and "The March of the Musicians" (1978) -- have been translated into a dozen languages.

He won the 2001 August Prize, Swedish literature's top honour, for "The Visit of the Royal Physician", which earned him broad international fame and tells the story of a romance between the physician of the mad Danish King Christian VII and the queen.

Enquist, known in Sweden by his initials P.O., won a second August award with his impressive autobiography "A Different Life" (2008), its name an homage to "A Life" by August Strindberg, the father of modern Swedish literature.

"P.O. Enquist's importance for Swedish cultural life since the 1960s can't be exaggerated. He was the model for the socially-engaged poet who influenced generations of younger writers. It is empty and unthinkable that he is gone," wrote Bjorn Wiman, the culture editor of the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.