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French novelist and playwright Jean Genet died Tuesday at...

PARIS -- French novelist and playwright Jean Genet died Tuesday at age 75 at his home in Paris after a long illness, a spokeswoman for his publisher Gallimard said.

The spokeswoman said Genet had been ill for several years with throat cancer but the author best known for his plays 'The Maids,' 'The Balcony' and his novel 'Diary of a Thief' continued to work until his death.

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She said Genet left an unfinished book 'Captive Lover.'

In his works, the self-educated Genet criticized strict moral codes and bourgeois society.

He was awarded France's prestigious National Grand Prix of Letters and was recognized by French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre in his essay 'Saint Genet, Comedian and Martyr.'

Genet was born Dec. 19, 1910, in Paris. His mother died soon after his birth and the government sent him to the country to live with a peasant family.

He published his first work in 1942.

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