|Primo Levi was an Auschwitz survivor who wrote obsessively--and brilliantly--about his experiences. Trained as a chemist, Levi was also a mountaineer and, in the 1940s, a dedicated antifascist. After his liberation from Auschwitz, Levi made an arduous trek back to his home in Italy (later chronicled in THE TRUCE). After the war, he continued to work as a chemist and to write; his first work, IF THIS IS A MAN (released in the U.S. as SURVIVAL IN AUSCHWITZ), was received with indifference, but he persevered, and gradually acquired an enormous literary reputation. He declined into depression, however, fearful that the moral lessons of the Holocaust would be ignored or forgotten. When a friend suggested that Levi's survival was a blessing from providence, Levi was appalled at the idea, because so many good people had perished. Despondent and unable to write well, he apparently committed suicide in 1987 by throwing himself down a flight of stairs--though there is controversy about whether it was suicide or a tragic accident. Levi was at work on an epistolary novel when he died.