Ana Novac was born Zimra Harsanyi to a Jewish family in Dej, in northern Transylvania -- now Romania, then part of Hungary. She was 14 years old when she was sent by the Nazis to Auschwitz, then the Płaszów (Pleszov) labor camp near Krakow, Poland, and never saw her family again. She kept a journal on odd scraps of paper that were smuggled to Christian friends on the outside. Her memoir based on her writings and experiences, The Beautiful Days of My Youth, was first published in 1966 in Hungary and constitutes an important eyewitness account of camp life. At the end of World War II, following a long recuperation, she returned to Romania, where she began to have success as a playwright in the 1950s. In 1957, she was awarded the Romanian State Prize, but was increasingly targeted by the Communist regime. In 1965, she was allowed to leave for Paris, where she lived for the rest of her life.