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Alexander Imich, who was born in Poland in 1903 and survived a Soviet Gulag, emigrated to the United States in the 1950s.
He turned 111 in February and assumed the "oldest living" title last month, according to the Gerontology Research Group of Torrance, California.
Imich is far from being the oldest living person, however. Sixty-six women are older than him, and the oldest of them, Misao Okawa of Japan, is 116.
A sparse eater whose favorite foods are chicken and chocolate, Imich said in a halting interview in his apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side that he credits good genes for his long life. His father, he said, lived into his 90s.
"But the life you live is equally or more important for longevity," he said.
Imich, who edited an anthology called "Incredible Tales of the Paranormal" in 1995, at the age of 92, says he still thinks about the future.
"There are things I would like to achieve," he said. "But I'm not quite clear about what and how."