Carlos Ruiz Zafon: Spanish author of 'The Shadow of the Wind' has died aged 55

The bestselling novelist had reportedly been suffering from cancer for two years

epa08495250 (FILE) - Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafon attends a reading at the 'lit.Cologne' international literary festival in Cologne, Germany, 16 March 2017 (reissued 19 June 2020). Zafon passed away at the age of 55 in Los Angeles, USA, after a long struggle against cancer, according to a press release by the publisher Planeta, which worked extensively with the Spanish writer over two decades of prolific partnership. The author of bestsellers such as 'The Shadow of the Wind' (2001) and 'The Labyrinth of Spirits' (2016) had been a resident of LA since 1993. Born in Barcelona in 1964, Zafon got by as a publicist and screenwriter before earning literary fame and critical acclaim for 'The Shadow of the Wind,' a Gothic-style mystery page-turner that has sold dozens of millions of copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling fiction books ever.  EPA/SASCHA STEINBACH *** Local Caption *** 53392837
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Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafon, who penned internationally bestselling novels such as The Shadow of the Wind, has died aged 55.

It has been widely reported in Spanish media that Ruiz Zafon had been diagnosed with colon cancer two years ago.

The novelist, who has in the past been described as the most-read Spanish author since Cervantes, died on Friday at his home in Los Angeles, US.

His eight novels have been translated into more than 40 languages, selling over 38 million copies worldwide. He's also won multiple awards over the course of his decades-long career.

He's best known for The Shadow of the Wind, the first instalment in his Cemetery of Forgotten Books series, which concluded with 2016's The Labyrinth of Spirits.

People were quick to pay tribute to the author on social media, including Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. He wrote in Spanish on Twitter: "We have lost one of the world's most read and most admired Spanish writers ... a key novelist of our epoch, made a significant contribution to modern literature."

“Today is a very sad day for the entire Planeta team that knew him and worked with him for 20 years, in which a friendship that transcends professionalism has been forged,” a statement from his Spanish publisher said.

It also quoted a line from his most famous book: "Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it."

His English-language publisher, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, also paid homage to the author on Twitter, saying: "We are deeply saddened to hear of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s passing and send our heartfelt condolences to his family.

"W&N are intensely proud to publish such a masterful writer, whose stories brought joy to millions and will continue to inspire and delight future generations."