Author · books · literature · review · signing

An afternoon with Markus Zusak

The Book Thief has remained my favourite book for the last decade since then I’ve lost count of how many books I’ve read, but nothing has been able to kick The Book Thief off its top spot.

 But there’s a new possibility on the horizon. For the first time in 10 years, Markus Zusak has a new book. And not only has he got a new book, but he’s currently on a book tour to promote it.

 When I was in Australia last year, I was gutted to discover I’d missed a talk by Markus in Sydney by one week. Then when his book tour was announced, his London talk was sold out before I could buy a ticket. Luckily my aunt’s bookshop was able to entice him north, so I took a long weekend visit to The Lake District with the added bonus of a Markus Zusak talk and signing.

 I promise I wasn’t trying to stalk him.

 Friendly and charming, Markus Zusak is undeniably a storyteller. He recounted a story he later informed us he’d told close to a 1000 times. It was about his family, his brothers and a raw egg. But it wasn’t just his storytelling, it was his ability to deconstruct a story, adding and taking away literary techniques as the tale demanded. He stopped at different points, he told us what was coming up, and yet the tale always took a slightly unexpected turn.

 His question and answer session, proved furthermore his talents; the details of The Book Thief that tie everything together, his trial of finding the right voice for a story and of course, his honesty about getting things wrong and trying again. He kindly discussed literary and writing techniques, the requirement of a good notebook and the desire to work hard.

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The New Bookshop in Cockermouth was the perfect host for this event, with plenty of opportunities to ask questions or simply have a chat with Markus.

Written in his unmistakable quirky style, Bridge of Clay is a tale of love, family, survival and a bridge.

 Review of Bridge of Clay coming soon.

books · fiction · literature · young adult

A thought on young adult fiction…

It’s been a little while since my last post and the main reason for this is not really a valid one; I didn’t think the books I’ve been reading (or rereading) recently would be viewed as valid for a post. They may not be addressed for adults or win numerous awards, but I feel they cover much deeper topics then most adult books. Young Adult fiction allows its readers to grow up and experience its stories within themselves. They manage to encapsulate an aspect missing from most adult fiction; a mixture of emotions and challenges echoed into a new world, yet relatable to most teenagers.

Young AdultsSo with my literature module set texts turning to the holocaust, I needed some lighter relief. Characters I’d met before, enjoyed their adventure and wished to reimagine their story. I’ve spent the last week rereading The Hunger Games to escape my current world and fight Katniss’s. From this, revolution clearly plays a large role of overcoming a repressed world, highlighting the lucky position we currently live in, a chance to acknowledge our past civil wars which led to the Britain of today, or the two world wars that brought harmony back to Europe and the world surrounding it. These are certainly not the first books to introduce such topics, not even the first Young Adult or children’s books to do that too; look towards Harry Potter, The Book Thief, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas or Divergent each oppressing strict regimes and war. However each of these brings a new addition to the themes they introduce, allow us to live through world so different yet so similar to our own.

Without these adventures, stories and challenges, would our generation be one that advocates peace over violence? I feel our literature plays a gigantic role in the generation of its time and time to come. It may be a marxist viewpoint, but I’m certain it’s true. We learn and develop through this literature, so I will not advocate that children’s literature is any less then adults. It is in fact what forms ourselves and something we should be grateful for and pass on for years to come…

What books have defined you from your childhood?