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".