Tuesday, 1 September 2009

The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, which you read and somehow feel enlightened and though it is fictional, more knowledgeable about the world as you read the closing pages. The book, first published in 2005 is set in the midst of Nazi Germany and focuses on a young girl named Lisel, who is sent to live with foster parents by her mother. Lisel learns to cope with her new terrifying environment through the comfort of books and escapes into the written word. As expected form a WW2 book there is tradgedy is a main theme, and the story of Lisel is aptly told by death.

Death is sent to pick up the souls destroyed by the war, and interestingly describes each soul as being assosiated with a  certain colour of the sky. Death is compassionate and a new understanding is given to life when told through the eyes of the grim reaper. What most struck me in this story however was the book a Jewish man makes.

Hiding for months in Lisel's basement Max Vandenburg occupies his time by painting over the pages of Mein Kampf to tell his own story. The images of these pages are featured in the book and are striking. It is perhaps these images more than the words which fill the rest of the book which best tell the story of  the loss and love which the book thief has to come to terms with. The emotion that is evoked by Mein Kampf being painted over by a Jew to tell his story is incredibly emotive. These images are strikingly powerful. Graphically I feel that is the emotion behind a piece of work which gives it power. Though these are simple rough sketches on paper which words can still be seen, there is a clear message. I urge you to read this book.

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