Some people were disappointed Markus Zusak’s latest novel Bridge of Clay, about which he will speak in hotly anticipated events at Perth Writer’s Week, isn’t more like the book that catapulted him to global fame: The Book Thief.
Zusak’s six novels have earned him ten years on the New York Times bestseller list and established him as one of Australia’s biggest authors. The Book Thief has been translated into more than 40 languages and is now a major movie.
But while The Book Thief’s Nazi Germany and Bridge of Clay’s suburban Australia tell wildly different stories in almost diametrically opposed settings, they share more subtle likenesses.
Both deal deeply with grief and pain, forcing the reader to feel and recall emotions at once deeply private and universally human.
Yet both do so artfully; far from being simple stories about loss, they both employ the device of an all-important, all-seeing central narrator who shows how people’s lives become intertwined through love and shared history.
Bridge of Clay is about a dying mother; but it is about far more than that. The 600-page saga is set up like a mystery, its pages littered with clues: a mattress. A mule. A murderer. An obstacle course. A clothespeg. And the iron gamepiece from a Monopoly set. Just to name a few.
Read my story on the Perth Writers Week program: Toil, timing and a dash of luck: Perth Writers Week books the big guns