Agota Kristof was born in Csikvánd, Hungary on October 30, 1935. At the age of 21 she had to leave her country when the Hungarian anti-communist revolution was suppressed by the Soviet military. She, her husband (who used to be her history teacher at school) and their 4-month-old daughter escaped to Neuchâtel in Switzerland. After 5 years of loneliness and exile, she quit her work in a factory and left her husband. She started studying French and began to write novels in that language.
Kristof's first steps as a writer were in the realm of poetry and theater (John et Joe, Un rat qui passe), aspects of her writing that did not have as great an impact as her trilogy. In 1986 Kristof’s first novel, The Notebook appeared. It was the beginning of a trilogy. The sequel titled The Proof came 2 years later. The third part was published in 1991 under the title The Third Lie. The most important themes of this trilogy are war and destruction, love and loneliness, promiscuous, desperate, and attention-seeking sexual encounters, desire and loss, truth and fiction.
She received the European prize for French literature for The Notebook. This novel was translated in more than 30 languages. In 1995 she published a new novel, Yesterday. Kristof also wrote a book called L'analphabète (in English The Illiterate) and published in 2004. This is an autobiographical text. It explores her love of reading as a young child, and we travel with her to boarding school, over the border to Austria and then to Switzerland. Forced to leave her country due to the failure of the anti-communist rebellion, she hopes for a better life in Zurich.
The majority of her works were published by Editions du Seuil in Paris. Recently two new short stories published at Mini Zoe collection entitled "Ou es-tu Mathias" and "Line, le temps". The names Mathias and Line are from her previous novels.
She died on 27 July 2011 in her Neuchâtel home. Her estate is archived in the Swiss Literary Archives in Bern.
The video game Mother 3 was influenced by The Notebook's major themes. Main characters Lucas and Claus are named after the book's narrators. The game's designer, Shigesato Itoi, a published author in his own right, compared the novel favorably to an RPG. North American novelist Stephen Beachy has named her as an influence on his novel boneyard.
Brucio nel vento (I burn in the Wind, 2002) is a film based on the novel Hier (Yesterday), directed by Silvio Soldini. Le Continent K. (1998) and Agota Kristof, 9 ans plus tard ... (2006) are two short documentaries about Agota Kristof directed by Eric Bergkraut.
The Notebook was adapted into a film in 2013.
In 2014, the novel was adapted for the stage by British contemporary theatre company, Forced Entertainment.