Greek author Vassilis Vassilikos, whose political novel inspired award-winning film 'Z,' dies at 89

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek novelist Vassilis Vassilikos, whose political book “Z” inspired the Academy Award-winning film of the same name, died Thursday in Athens at age 89.

The best-known among the scores of books he wrote, “Z” was based on the murder of a left-leaning Greek member of Parliament by right-wingers in 1963.

Published in 1966, it was translated into several languages but was banned in Greece by the right-wing dictatorship that ruled from 1967-74. It quickly became a symbol of resistance to the regime.

The 1969 movie by Greek director Costa-Gavras won the Academy Award for best foreign language film.

Vassilikos was born Nov. 18, 1934 in the northern town of Kavala, and studied law, as well as television directing. He was exiled by the military regime in 1967, and lived in Italy and France. From July 2019 to May 2023 he served as a member of Greece's Parliament with the left-wing Syriza party.

Culture Minister Lina Mendoni praised Vassilikos' narrative skills and understanding of Greek society.

“He was a basically political author who used his writing skills to serve his beliefs,” she said Thursday.

Vassilikos is survived by his wife, Greek soprano Vaso Papantoniou, and their daughter. No funeral arrangements were immediately made public.