In 2012, Auster was quoted as saying in an interview that he wouldn't visit Turkey to protest their treatment of journalists. The Turkish Prime-Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan replied: "As if we need you! Who cares if you come or not?". "According to the latest numbers gathered by International PEN, there are nearly one hundred writers imprisoned in Turkey, not to speak of independent publishers such as Ragip Zarakolu, whose case is being closely watched by PEN Centers around the world", responded Auster.
As of November 2010, Auster has been at work on a new novel, but has said that in the past few years he has found it harder to come up with ideas: "I used to have a backlog of stories, but a few years ago I found the drawers were empty. I guess I’m getting to the point where I tell myself if I can’t write another book it’s not a tragedy. Does it matter if I publish 16 or 17 novels? Unless it’s absolutely urgent, there’s no point in writing."
Following his acclaimed debut work, a memoir entitled The Invention of Solitude, Auster gained renown for a series of three loosely connected detective stories published collectively as The New York Trilogy. These books are not conventional detective stories organized around a mystery and a series of clues. Rather, he uses the detective form to address existential issues and questions of identity, space, language, and literature, creating his own distinctively postmodern (and critique of postmodernist) form in the process. Comparing the two works, Auster said, "I believe the world is filled with strange events. Reality is a great deal more mysterious than we ever give it credit for. In that sense, the Trilogy grows directly out of The Invention of Solitude."
Lacan's theory declares that we enter the world through words. We observe the world through our senses, but the world we sense is structured (mediated) in our mind through language. Thus our unconscious also is structured as a language. This leaves us with a sense of anomaly. We can only perceive the world through language, but we have the feeling that something is missing. This is the sense of being outside language. The world can only be constructed through language, but it always leaves something uncovered, something that cannot be told or be thought of, it may only be sensed. This is one of the central themes of Paul Auster's writing.
The transcendentalists believe that the symbolic order of civilization separated us from the natural order of the world. By moving into nature - as Thoreau did in Walden - it would be possible to return to this natural order.
The common factor of both ideas is the question of the meaning of symbols for human beings. Auster's protagonists often are writers who establish meaning in their lives through writing and they try to find their place within the natural order, to be able to live within "civilization" again.
Edgar Allan Poe, Samuel Beckett, and Herman Melville have also had a strong influence on Auster's writing. Not only do their characters reappear in Auster's work (such as William Wilson in City of Glass or Hawthorne's Fanshawe in The Locked Room, both from The New York Trilogy), Auster also uses variations on the themes of these writers.
Instances of coincidence may be found throughout Auster's work. Auster claims that people are so influenced by the continuity among them that they do not see the elements of coincidence, inconsistency, and contradiction in their own lives:
This idea of contrasts, contradictions, paradox, I think, gets very much to the heart of what novel writing is for me. It's a way for me to express my own contradictions.
Failure, in Paul Auster's works, is not just the opposite of the happy ending. In Moon Palace and The Book of Illusions it comes from the individual's uncertainty about the status of one's own identity. The protagonists start a search for their own identity and reduce their life to the absolute minimum. From this zero point they gain new strength and start their new life and they also are able to regain contact with their surroundings. A similar development also may be seen in City of Glass and The Music of Chance.
Failure in this context is not the "nothing" - it is the beginning of something all new.
Auster's protagonists often go through a process that reduces their support structure to an absolute minimum: they sever all contact with family and friends, go hungry, and lose or give away all their belongings. Out of this state of "nothingness" they either acquire new strength to reconnect with the world or they fail and disappear for good.
But in the end, he manages to resolve the question for himself - more or less. He finally comes to accept his own life, to understand that no matter how bewitched and haunted he is, he has to accept reality as it is, to tolerate the presence of ambiguity within himself.
—Paul Auster about the protagonist of The Locked Room, quoted in Martin Klepper, Pynchon, Auster, DeLillo.
Ever since City of Glass, the first volume of his New York Trilogy, Auster has perfected a limpid, confessional style, then used it to set disoriented heroes in a seemingly familiar world gradually suffused with mounting uneasiness, vague menace and possible hallucination. His plots — drawing on elements from suspense stories, existential récit, and autobiography — keep readers turning the pages, but sometimes end by leaving them uncertain about what they've just been through.
Literary critic James Wood, however, offers Auster little praise in his piece "Shallow Graves" in the November 30, 2009, issue of The New Yorker:
What Auster often gets instead is the worst of both worlds: fake realism and shallow skepticism. The two weaknesses are related. Auster is a compelling storyteller, but his stories are assertions rather than persuasions. They declare themselves; they hound the next revelation. Because nothing is persuasively assembled, the inevitable postmodern disassembly leaves one largely untouched. (The disassembly is also grindingly explicit, spelled out in billboard-size type.) Presence fails to turn into significant absence, because presence was not present enough.
Dirda and Wood--both based in the United States--assess Auster's literary qualities more than his view of American society, which Morris Berman suggests is the basis for his European popularity:
It’s interesting that the theme of Paul Auster’s novels is that American society is incoherent, that it lacks a true identity, and that it’s nothing more than a hall of mirrors. He’s been saying that for decades and by and large Americans don’t know who Paul Auster is and they don’t read him. Auster is tremendously popular in Europe, he’s been translated into more than twenty languages: those are the bulk of his sales. Americans are not interested in this kind of perception.
But, since so few (if any) novelists are important media figures in the United States (e.g. they are no longer interviewed on television for their political opinions, as used to be common), it is more likely that Auster's format is responsible for his relative obscurity in the United States: as it is he is one of the country's more commercially successful novelists.
1989 Prix France Culture de Littérature Étrangère for The New York Trilogy
The Inner Life of Martin Frost (2007) – "The Inner Life of Martin Frost" is a screenplay that is mentioned in Auster's novel The Book of Illusions. It is the only film that the protagonist watches of Hector Mann's later, hidden films. It is a simple story of a man meeting a girl, an intense relationship, and her vanishing.
The Red Notebook (1995) (The Red Notebook was originally printed in Granta (44)). (1993).
Hand to Mouth (1997)
Collected Prose (contains The Invention of Solitude, The Art of Hunger, The Red Notebook, and Hand to Mouth as well as various other previously uncollected pieces) (first edition, 2005; expanded second edition, 2010)
"The Accidental Rebel" (Wed. April 23 article in New York Times)
On the album As Smart as We Are by New York band One Ring Zero, Auster wrote the lyrics for the song "Natty Man Blues" based on Cincinnati poet Norman Finkelstein.
In 2005 his daughter, Sophie, recorded an album of songs in both French and English, entitled Sophie Auster, with the band One Ring Zero. The lyrics of three of the songs (in English) are by Paul Auster; and he also provided for the accompanying booklet translations of several French poems which form the lyrics of other songs on the album.
In 1993, a movie adaptation of The Music of Chance was released. Auster features in a cameo role at the end of the film.
The lyrics of Fionn Regan's 2006 song Put A Penny In The Slot mention Auster and his novella Timbuktu.
Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth's composition ... ce qui arrive ... (2004) combines the recorded voice of Paul Auster with ensemble music and live electronics by Markus Noisternig and Thomas Musil (Institute of Electronic Music and Acoustics (IEM)). Paul Auster is heard reading from his books Hand to Mouth and The Red Notebook, either as straight recitation, integrated with other sounds as if in a radio play, or passed through an electronically realized string resonator so that the low tones interact with those of a string ensemble. A film by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster runs throughout the work featuring the cabaret artist and actress Georgette Dee.
Paul Auster narrated "Ground Zero" (2004), an audio guide created by the Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva) and Soundwalk  and produced by NPR, which won the Dalton Pen Award for Multi-media/Audio, (2005), and was nominated for an Audie Award for best Original Work, (2005).
In the 2008 Russian film Плюс один (Plus One), the main character is in the process of translating one of Auster's books.
In the 2009 documentary Act of God, Auster is interviewed on his experience of being struck by lightning as a boy.
^ abFreeman, John. "At home with Siri and Paul", The Jerusalem Post, April 3, 2008. Accessed September 19, 2008. "Like so many people in New York, both of them are spiritual refugees of a sort. Auster hails from Newark, New Jersey, and Hustvedt from Minnesota, where she was raised the daughter of a professor, among a clan of very tall siblings."
^Begley, Adam. "Case of the Brooklyn Symbolist", The New York Times, August 30, 1992. Accessed September 19, 2008. "The grandson of first-generation Jewish immigrants, he was born in Newark in 1947, grew up in South Orange and attended high school in Maplewood, 20 miles southwest of New York."
^Auster, Paul. Winter Journal (New York, NY: Henry Holt, 2012), p. 61.
Paul Auster, Gérard de Cortanze La solitude du labyrinthe. Paris:Actes Sud, 1997.
Franchot Ballinger Ambigere: The Euro-American Picaro and the Native American Trickster. MELUS, 17 (1991–92), pp. 21–38.
Dennis Barone (ed.): Beyond the Red Notebook. Essays on Paul Auster. Penn Studies in Contemporary American Fiction. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia (2. ed. 1996)
Dennis Barone Auster’s Memory. The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 14:1 (Spring 1994), pp. 32–34
Charles Baxter The Bureau of Missing Persons: Notes on Paul Auster’s Fiction. The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 14:1 (Spring 1994), pp. 40–43.
Harold Bloom ed. Paul Auster. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publ.; 2004.
Martine Chard-Hutchinson Paul Auster (1947- ). In: Joel Shatzky and Michael Taub (eds.). Contemporary Jewish-American Novelists: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1997, pp. 13–20.
Alain Chareyre-Méjan, Guillaume Pigeard de Gurbert. Ce que Paul Auster n’a jamais dit: une logique du quelconque. In: Annick Duperray (ed.). L’oeuvre de Paul Auster: approches et lectures plurielles. Actes du colloque Paul Auster. Aix-en-Provence: Actes Sud, 1995, pp. 176–184.
Gérard de Cortanze, James Rudnick: Paul Auster's New York. Gerstenberg, New York; Hildesheim, 1998
(French) Gérard de Cortanze Le New York de Paul Auster. Paris: Les Éditions du Chêne-Hachette Livre, 1996.
Robert Creeley Austerities. The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 14:1 (Spring 1994), pp. 35–39.
Scott Dimovitz, 'Public Personae and the Private I: De-Compositional Ontology in Paul Auster's The New York Trilogy.' MFS: Modern Fiction Studies. 52:3 (Fall 2006): 613-633.
Scott Dimovitz, 'Portraits in Absentia: Repetition, Compulsion, and the Postmodern Uncanny in Paul Auster's Leviathan.' Studies in the Novel. 40:4 (Winter 2008): 447-464.
William Drenttel (ed.) Paul Auster: A Comprehensive Bibliographic Checklist of Published Works 1968-1994. New York: Delos Press, 1994.
Annick Duperray, Paul Auster: Les ambiguïtés de la négation. Paris: Belin. 2003.
(German)Sven Gächter Schreiben ist eine endlose Therapie: Der amerikanische Romancier Paul Auster über das allmähliche Entstehen von Geschichten. Weltwoche (31.12.1992), p. 30.
François Gavillon Paul Auster, gravité et légèreté de l'écriture. Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2000.
Charles Grandjeat Le hasard et la nécessité dans l’oeuvre de Paul Auster. In: Annick Duperray (ed.). L’oeuvre de Paul Auster: approches et lectures plurielles. Actes du colloque Paul Auster. Aix-en-Provence: Actes Sud, 1995, pp. 153–163.
(German) Ulrich Greiner: Gelobtes Land. Amerikanische Schriftsteller über Amerika. Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1997
Claude Grimal Paul Auster au coeur des labyrinthes. Europe: Revue Littéraire Mensuelle, 68:733 (1990), pp. 64–66.
Allan Gurganus How Do You Introduce Paul Auster in Three Minutes?. The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 14:1 (Spring 1994), pp. 7–8.
Anne M. Holzapfel: The New York trilogy. Whodunit? Tracking the structure of Paul Auster’s anti-detective novels. Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1996. (= Studien zur Germanistik und Anglistik; 11) ISBN 3-631-49798-9
(German) Beate Hötger: Identität im filmischen Werk von Paul Auster. Lang, Frankfurt am Main u.a. 2002. (= Europäische Hochschulschriften; Reihe 30, 84) ISBN 3-631-38470-X
(German) Heiko Jakubzik: Paul Auster und die Klassiker der American Renaissance. Dissertation, Universität Heidelberg 1999 (online text)
Bernd Herzogenrath An Art of Desire. Reading Paul Auster. Amsterdam: Rodopi; 1999
Bernd Herzogenrath Introduction. In: Bernd Herzogenrath. An Art of Desire: Reading Paul Auster. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1999, pp. 1–11.
Gerald Howard Publishing Paul Auster. The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 14:1 (Spring 1994), pp. 92–95.
Peter Kirkegaard, Cities, Signs, Meanings in Walter Benjamin and Paul Auster: Or, Never Sure of Any of It in Orbis Litterarum: International Review of Literary Studies 48 (1993): 161179.
Barry Lewis The Strange Case of Paul Auster. The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 14:1 (Spring 1994), pp. 53–61.
James Marcus Auster! Auster!. The Village Voice, 39 (August 30, 1994), pp. 55–56.
Brian McHale Constructing Postmodernism. London and New York: Routledge, 1992.
Patricia Merivale The Austerized Version. Contemporary Literature, 38:1 (Spring 1997), pp. 185–197.
Christophe Metress Iles et archipels, sauver ce qui est récupérable: la fiction de Paul Auster. In: Annick Duperray (ed.). L’oeuvre de Paul Auster: approches et lectures plurielles. Actes du colloque Paul Auster. Aix-en-Provence: Actes Sud, 1995, pp. 245–257.
James Peacock Carrying the Burden of Representation: Paul Auster's The Book of Illusions. Journal of American Studies, 40:1 (April 2006), pp. 53–70.
(German) Werner Reinhart: Pikareske Romane der 80er Jahre. Ronald Reagan und die Renaissance des politischen Erzählens in den USA. (Acker, Auster, Boyle, Irving, Kennedy, Pynchon). Narr, Tübingen 2001
William Riggan Picaros, Madmen, Naïfs, and Clowns: The Unreliable First-Person Narrator. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1981.
Mark Rudman Paul Auster: Some ‚Elective Affinities‘. The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 14:1 (Spring 1994), pp. 44–45.
(German) Michael Rutschky Die Erfindung der Einsamkeit: Der amerikanische Schriftsteller Paul Auster. Merkur, 45 (1991), pp. 1105–1113.
Edward H. Schafer Ways of Looking at the Moon Palace. Asia Major. 1988; 1(1):1-13.
(German) Steffen Sielaff: Die postmoderne Odyssee. Raum und Subjekt in den Romanen von Paul Auster. Univ. Diss., Berlin 2004.
(German) Joseph C. Schöpp Ausbruch aus der Mimesis: Der amerikanische Roman im Zeichen der Postmoderne. München: Fink, 1990.
Motoyuki Shibata Being Paul Auster’s Ghost. In: Dennis Barone (ed.). Beyond the Red Notebook: Essays on Paul Auster. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995, pp. 183–188.
Carsten Springer: Crises. The works of Paul Auster. Lang, Frankfurt am Main u.a. 2001. (= American culture; 1) ISBN 3-631-37487-9
Carsten Springer: A Paul Auster Sourcebook. Frankfurt a. Main u. a., Peter Lang, 2001.
Eduardo Urbina: La ficción que no cesa: Paul Auster y Cervantes. Vigo: Editorial Academia del Hispanismo, 2007.
Eduardo Urbina: La ficción que no cesa: Cervantes y Paul Auster. Cervantes en el ámbito anglosajón. Eds. Diego Martínez Torrón and Bernd Dietz. Madrid: SIAL Ediciones, 2005. 433-42.
Eduardo Urbina: Reflejos lunares, o la transformación paródica de la locura quijotesca en Moon Palace (1989) de Paul Auster. Siglos dorados; Homenaje an Augustin Redondo. Ed. Pierre Civil. Madrid: Castalia, 2004. 2: 1417-25.
Eduardo Urbina: Parodias cervantinas: el Quijote en tres novelas de Paul Auster (La ciudad de cristal, El palacio de la luna y El libro de las ilusiones). ‘Calamo currente’: Homenaje a Juan Bautista de Avalle Arce. Ed. Miguel Zugasti. RILCE (Universidad de Navarra) 23.1 (2007): 245-56.
Eduardo Urbina: Reading Matters: Quixotic Fiction and Subversive Discourse in Paul Auster’s The Book of Illusions Critical Reflections: Essays on Golden Age Spanish Literature in Honor of James A. Parr. Eds. Barbara Simerka and Amy R. Williamsen. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2006. 57-66.
Various Authors. Special edition on Paul Auster. Critique. 1998 Spring; 39(3).
Aliki Varvogli "World That is the Book: Paul Auster's Fiction". Liverpool University press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-85323-697-9
Florian Felix Weyh Paul Auster. Kritisches Lexikon der fremdsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur (26. Nachlieferung), pp. 1–10.
Curtis White The Auster Instance: A Ficto-Biography. The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 14:1 (Spring 1994), pp. 26–29.
Eric Wirth A Look Back from the Horizon. In: Dennis Barone (ed.). Beyond the Red Notebook: Essays on Paul Auster. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995, pp. 171–182.
John Zilcosky The Revenge of the Author: Paul Auster’s Challenge to Theory. Critique, 39:3 (Spring 1998), pp. 195–206.
I want to tell you a story piece by Auster at The Guardian, November 6, 2006. The subtitle reads: "one of America's greatest living novelists, argues that fiction is 'magnificently useless', but the act of creation and the pleasure of reading are incomparable human joys that we should savour"