"Let us not mince words here: Danilo Kis's Garden, Ashes is an unmitigated masterpiece, surely not just one of the best books about the Holocaust, but one of the greatest books of the past century." -- Aleksandar Hemon, from the introduction
Danilo Kiš was born in Subotica, Danube Banovina, Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the son of Eduard Kiš (Kis Ede), a Hungarian Jewish railway inspector, and Milica Kiš (born Dragicevic) from Cetinje, Montenegro. During the Second World War, he lost his father and several other family members, who died in various Nazi camps. His mother took him and his older sister Danica to Hungary for the duration of the war. After the end of the war, the family moved to Cetinje, Montenegro, Yugoslavia, where Kiš graduated from high school in 1954.
Kiš studied literature at the University of Belgrade, and graduated in 1958 as the first student to complete a course in comparative literature. He was a prominent member of the Vidici magazine, where he worked until 1960. In 1962 he published his first two novels, Mansarda and Psalam 44. Kiš received the prestigious NIN Award for his Pešcanik ("Hourglass") in 1973, which he returned a few years later, due to a political dispute.
During the following years, Kiš received a great number of national and international awards for his prose and poetry.
He spent most of his life in Paris and working as a lecturer elsewhere in France.
Kiš was married to Mirjana Miocinovic from 1962 to 1981. After their separation, he lived with Pascale Delpech until his early death from lung cancer in Paris.
A film based on Pešcanik (Fövenyóra) directed by the Hungarian Szabolcs Tolnai is currently in post-production. 
Kiš was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature and was due to win it, were it not for his untimely death in 1989.