(Kiki Kosinski)

Today on Tablet, Sam Kerbel takes a look at the work of Jerzy Kosinski, who was a lightning rod for criticism and confusion alike.

Few legacies remain as mythic in scope and precarious in esteem as Kosinski’s. A Holocaust survivor living under various fake identities, he immigrated to the United States in 1957 and held odd jobs, like chauffeuring a Harlem drug king, until he married a wealthy steel heiress whom he later divorced. He was an actor, socialite, playboy, academic, and most notably an award-winning writer of books such as The Painted Bird (1965), Steps (1968), and Being There (1971), the last of which was adapted into an Academy Award- and BAFTA-winning film starring Peter Sellers and written by Kosinski himself.

A newly released collection of interviews and talks by Kosinski provide some valuable insight. Kerbel explains here.