Born and raised a few doors from here at what’s now J. Basanavičiaus 18 as Romain Kacew (Katsev), Romain Gary became a prize-winning author after moving to France with his mother when he was 14. Following a distinguished war record as a pilot in the Free French Air Force (Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres), Gary published his first novel, Education Européenne, in 1945. Perhaps best remembered for writing the screenplay to the 1962 WWII blockbuster The Longest Day, Romain Gary was married twice, held the unique (and illicit) distinction of winning the Prix Goncourt on two occasions and suffered from depression, a fact that led to his suicide in Paris on 2 December 1980. Unveiled in 2007, Romas Kvintas’ Vilnius statue shows a boy clutching a galosh, recreating an alleged moment during Gary’s childhood in the city when he reportedly ate one of his overshoes in an attempt to impress a girl living next door, a scene recreated in his autobiographical Promise at Dawn (1961), a highly recommended book of which a significant section is set in this part of town.
City centre location