French poet and novelist Robert Sabatier, best known
internationally for his book "The Safety Matches", died Thursday
in a hospital in a Paris suburb aged 88, his publisher said.
"The Safety Matches", published in 1969, was one of an
autobiographical series of novels about growing up in the streets
of a poor area of Paris in the 1930s.
Sabatier's first book of fiction, "Alain et le negre" (Alain and
the Negro), was published in 1953 and was hailed as the first
French anti-racist novel. It was later adapted for the cinema.
He published a dozen books of poetry and authored a nine-volume
book on the history on French poetry, for which he claimed to
have read 25 million poems over four decades.
French Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti said that with his
death, France had lost a "great literary figure".