John Christopher Cullen III, the renowned literary translator who translated more than 50 novels and works of nonfiction into English, died on April 15, the Times-Picayune reported. He was 79 years old.

Born in New Orleans, La., in 1942, Cullen earned a Ph.D. in English literature and traveled extensively in Europe before returning to the United States and beginning his career as a translator in 1987. Fluent in German, Italian, Spanish and French, Cullen translated the work of writers such as Kamel Daoud, Martin Dumont and Véronique Tadjo.

Kira Wizner, co-owner of Merritt Bookstore in Millbrook, N.Y., who knew Cullen and his wife, the novelist Valerie Martin, said Cullen was a “wordsmith, and like any true master, loved language.” Through his work as a translator, she wrote, “readers in English were gifted a version that worked because John was, dare I say, holistic. The words, the mood, the subtext, all accounted for.”