Markus Zusak Biography
"I always had stories in my head. So I started writing them."
Markus Zusak's novels include Fighting Ruben Wolfe, Getting The Girl ,
I Am The Messenger, and The Book Thief.. He received the Children's Book Council of Australia's
Book of the Year Award for I Am the Messenger. He lives in Sydney, where
he "writes, occasionally works a real job, and plays on a soccer team that never
wins. When asked about The Book Thief, he explains, "I wanted to
write something very different than what I'd done before. The idea of a
book stealer was in my head when I was writing I Am The Messenger, but it
wasn't ready to be written. The original idea was set in the present in
Sydney, which didn't feel quite right. Then I thought about writing of the
things my parents had seen while growing up in Nazi Germany and Austria, and
when I brought the ideas together, it seemed to work, especially when I thought
about the importance of words in that time, and what they were able to make
In a 2006 interview with Publishers Weekly Zusak explained that the initial inspiration for The Book Thief were two stories he was told as a child. The first was of a tale his mother told of Munich being bombed. "Everything was red, like the sky was on fire. That was a memory that I could see really clearly as a child, a very visual image," he says. The second story was of a teenage boy who took pity on an emaciated Jew being forced through the streets, and offered him some bread. Both were whipped by a soldier who witnessed this act of compassion.
In his acknowledgements Zusak mentions many people but ends
with "special thanks to his parents, Lisa and Helmut Zusak - for the stories we
find hard to believe, for laughter, and for showing me another side."
The Book Thief was published in September 2005 in Australia to wide acclaim, and was positioned as Zusak's adult debut. In the USA, Random House have chosen to publish it as a young-adult novel, which Zusak is comfortable with saying, "For a teenage audience, it's clearly for sophisticated readers. You just hope it gets into the right person's hands, whatever their age".
This biography was last updated on 07/27/2011.
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