Brazilian writer Moacyr Scliar dies at 73

Moacyr Scliar, a Brazilian writer best known for his novel Max and the Cats, has died at age 73.

Moacyr Scliar, a Brazilian writer best known for his novel Max and the Cats, has died. He was 73.

Scliar died in hospital early Sunday of multiple organ failure, the Brazilian Academy of Letters says in an online statement. He had suffered a stroke last month in the southern city of Porto Alegre.

Max and the Cats is the story of a man fleeing the Nazis who is shipwrecked and finds himself alone in a dinghy with a jaguar.

Canadian writer Yann Martel freely acknowledged Scliar's work as inspiration for his Booker-winning novel Life of Pi, saying he had read a review of the book in the New York Times. Life of Pi features a boy trapped in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger.

However, the Brazilian press were indignant and accused Martel of copying Scliar's work. In a 2003 appearance at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto, Scliar himself said his work has been used and abused by English-speaking writers.

Scliar was born in Porto Alegra in 1937 and studied medicine before publishing his first book of short stories in 1962.

Many of his books are about Jewish identity in the diaspora. The Centaur in the Garden was included on a list of the 100 best Jewish works of the 20th century created by the National Yiddish Book Center in the U.S.

He also achieved international recognition with his short stories, including The Enigmatic Eye, The Carnival of the Animals and The Ballad of the False Messiah.

Scliar is survived by his wife, Judith, and his son, Roberto.

With files from The Canadian Press