Jerzy Kosinski (1933-1991) was born into a Jewish family in Lodz, Poland, on June 14, 1933. Kosinski wandered the countryside during World War II. He was reunited with his parents after the war and earned degrees in history and political science in Poland before coming to the United States in 1957.
Kosinski is perhaps best known for his novels The Painted Bird, which he suggested was based on his experiences during World War II, and Being There, later made into a movie directed by Hal Ashby and starring Peter Sellers. Towards the end of his life, Kosinski was accused of taking much of his work from Polish sources with which English speakers were unfamiliar, and also of having his "assistant editors" write much of his work without receiving credit. The critics making these charges often point to the wild differences in the styles of prose from one novel to the next, neglecting the stylistic differences apparent in the work of almost any artist who has produced work for more than a few years.
Kosinski committed suicide in 1991. Tabloid publications widely reported that his death was the result of autoerotic asphyxiation, but this was dismissed in the coroner's report which observed that his parting note read "I am going to put myself to sleep now for a bit longer than usual. Call the time Eternity."(quote from Newsweek, May 13, 1991).