Winfried Georg "Max" Sebald, 57, a German-born author and British academic who impressed the literary world with books based on tragic events of the past 200 years, died Dec. 14 when the car he was driving collided with a truck near his home in Norwich, England.

His daughter, Anna, who was a passenger in the car, was in poor but stable condition in a Norwich hospital.

Mr. Sebald had recently completed a U.S. tour for his latest book, "Austerlitz."

He was a professor of European literature at the University of East Anglia in Norwich and the author of four novels in addition to poetry and essays. His works often concerned characters affected by World War II and the Holocaust.

His four novels -- "The Emigrants," "Vertigo," "The Rings of Saturn" and "Austerlitz" -- managed to be ruminative and provocative yet filled with images and metaphors that lent an eerie beauty to the stories.

In "Austerlitz," he told the story of a boy, raised by Christians in Wales, who discovers that he was born a Jew in pre-World War II Prague.

In each of his books, he employed the use of a narrator to help the key characters reveal the contours of their lives. He also added grainy black-and-white photographs without captions to give a documentary feeling to the work.

Vincent Watts, vice chancellor of East Anglia University, said that Mr. Sebald was "an eminent critic of German literature and teacher of German studies, and he also created here at UEA what is now the major center for literary translation in this country."

Winfried Georg Sebald was born in Bavaria, the son of a tinsmith who served in the German army during World War II and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Mr. Sebald was the first person in his family to advance beyond primary school. He attended Freiburg University in Switzerland and Manchester University in England.

He became an assistant lecturer at the University of Manchester in 1966 and moved to England permanently in 1970, when he began teaching at the University of East Anglia. He had been professor of European literature since 1987 and lived in Norwich.

His writing career began in the 1960s, when he wrote a series of short pieces for a newspaper to make some extra money. In doing so, he found a calling.

"I found a patch of my own," he once said. "It was a kind of therapy, self-therapy. I never thought it would take over, but you write one thing and then you feel compelled to write another. It's a kind of compulsive disorder."

In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife, Ute.