It is 1939, Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. By her brother's graveside, Liesel Meminger's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is "The Gravedigger's Handbook", left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her foster father, learns to read. Soon, she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever there are books to be found. But these are dangerous times. When Liesel's foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up, and closed down. "The Book Thief" is a story about the power of words and the ability of books to feed the soul. In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author, Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
"The Book Thief is unsettling and unsentimental, yet ultimately poetic. Its grimness and tragedy run through the reader's mind like a black-and-white movie, bereft of the colors of life. Zusak may not have lived under Nazi domination, but The Book Thief deserves a place on the same shelf with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel's Night. It seems poised to become a classic."
- USA Today
Shortlisted for Independent Booksellers' Book of the Year Award: Children's 2007.
Shortlisted for YoungMinds Book Award 2007.
Shortlisted for ABIA Australian Book of the Year 2006.
Australian author Markus Zusak grew up hearing stories about Nazi Germany, about the bombing of Munich and about Jews being marched through his mother's small, German town. He always knew it was a story he wanted to tell. "We have these images of the straight-marching lines of boys and the 'Heil Hitlers' and this idea that everyone in Germany was in it together. But there still were rebellious children and people who didn't follow the rules and people who hid Jews and other people in their houses. At the age of 30, Zusak has already asserted himself as one of today's most innovative and poetic novelists. With the publication of The Book Thief, he is now being dubbed a 'literary phenomenon' by Australian and U.S. critics. Zusak is the award-winning recipient of a 2006 Printz Honor for excellence in young adult literature. He lives in Sydney with his wife and new baby.
When Death tells a story, you pay attention. Liesel Meminger is a young girl growing up outside of Munich in Nazi Germany, and Death tells her story as "an attempt-a flying jump of an attempt-to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it." When her foster father helps her learn to read and she discovers the power of words, Liesel begins stealing books from Nazi book burnings and the mayor's wife's library. As she becomes a better reader, she becomes a writer, writing a book about her life in such a miserable time. Liesel's experiences move Death to say, "I am haunted by humans." How could the human race be "so ugly and so glorious" at the same time? This big, expansive novel is a leisurely working out of fate, of seemingly chance encounters and events that ultimately touch, like dominoes as they collide. The writing is elegant, philosophical and moving. Even at its length, it's a work to read slowly and savor. Beautiful and important. (Fiction. 12+)