He was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1936. During World War II, he and his parents escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto and fled to the Soviet Union, spending the remainder of the war in Ukraine, Moscow and finally in Kokand, in Uzbekistan.
In 1946, he returned to Poland with his family, but he left for Paris in 1950, when he was fourteen, and studied pantomime under Marcel Marceau. He was admitted to the École nationale des beaux-arts to study painting. In 1954, he received the Deauville international prize, and was also awarded a prize at the Biennale d'Ancone. His first international exhibit was in 1955 in Buenos Aires, and he remained in that city for 2 years, returning to France in 1957, where he engaged in political journalism and advocacy.
In 1968, he founded together with his wife, Clara Halter, the magazine Élements, which published equally works by Israeli, Palestinian, and Arab writers.
His first book, a political autobiography, Le Fou et les Rois (The Jester and the Kings) was awarded the Prix Aujourd'hui in 1976.
Other novels include The Messiah, The Mysteries of Jerusalem, The Book of Abraham (1986) and its sequel, The Children of Abraham (1990), The Wind of the Khazars (2003) —a piece of historical fiction about the Khazars, a nomadic kingdom of Turkic people in the Caucasus who converted to Judaism—, Sarah (2004), Zipporah (2005), Lilah (2006), and Mary of Nazareth (2008).
Nonfiction works include:
- The Jester And the Kings: a Political Biography (1989)
- Stories of Deliverance: Speaking with Men And Women Who Rescued Jews from the Holocaust (1998).
- English, Spanish, German, Italian, Polish, Japanese, Dutch, Macedonian. , Serbian, Turkish, Danish, Russian, Catalan, Czech, Hebrew, Romanian, Swedish, Modern Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese and Slovenian, according to his Worldcat author listing
- Thomas Nolden In Lieu of Memory: Contemporary Jewish Writing in France Syracuse, NY : Syracuse Univ. Press, 2005 ISBN 9780815630890
- Berman, Paul. The Flight of the Intellectuals. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Melville House, 2010. ISBN 9781933633510
- Masha Leon, "Of Sugihara and Hiroshima", The Forward, Aug 12, 2005.
- "L'équipe du Collège Universitaire de Moscou". moscuf.org (in French). Retrieved 8 March 2012.
- L'homme qui a tout vécu..., Le Point, January 17, 2007.
- Les mensonges de Marek Halter, Le Nouvel Observateur, December 6, 2008.
- Media related to Marek Halter at Wikimedia Commons