Argentine writer Alicia Steimberg, author of more than a dozen books and winner in 1992 of the Planeta Prize of the South, died in Buenos Aires after suffering a heart attack, sources close to her said. She was 78.

This Saturday the author was "having tea with her lady friends when she had heart failure. They took her to the Italiano Hospital where she died almost instantly. It came as a complete surprise, she was having a very happy time," writer Ana Maria Shua, a colleague and friend of Steimberg, told the state news agency Telam.

"She was a great writer in all she did. She was constantly inventing stories. She always thought of literature as art, she gave many workshops and was the instructor of many writers," Shua recalled.

A translator and English teacher, Steimberg's literary career began in 1971 with the publication of her novel "Musicos y Relojeros" (Musicians and Watchmakers).

Later she published "La Loca 101" (The Crazy Woman 101), the book of short stories "Como Todas las Mañanas" (Like Every Morning), "El Arbol del Placer" (Tree of Pleasure), "Amatista" (Amethyst), "El Mundo No Es de Polenta" (The World Isn't Made of Polenta) and "Una Tarde de Invierno, un Submarino" (A Winter's Afternoon, a Submarine), among other works.

Steimberg, who also contributed to the Spanish culture magazine Turia, won the Planeta Prize thanks to her work "Cuando Digo Magdalena" (Call Me Magdalene).

Between 1995 and 1997 she was director of books for the Argentine Culture Secretariat.

A vigil was to be held for the deceased writer, mother of three, on Monday in Buenos Aires. EFE