Born in Budapest (1954), he grew up in Sweden and now lives in Oslo, Norway. After studying philosophy and literature, he pursued a career as a journalist. He is a literary critic, a writer and a publisher, having served as the chairman of the Swedish PEN club. His interest in philosophy and Judaism led him to write a fictional history of the Sephardic Jews who fled Portugal to the Netherlands, with their most notable figure being the excommunicated philosopher Benedict Spinoza, known as Bento. The narrator in the book, titled The Elixir of Immortality, is Ari Spinoza, a childless descendant of the famous philosopher, who on his deathbed recounts the story of a secret manuscript containing instructions for attaining immortality, which his family has passed down from father to son since the 11th century.