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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Using your words in remarkable ways

“I like the idea that every page in every book can have a gem on it. It's probably what I love most about writing - that words can be used in a way that's like a child playing in a sandpit, rearranging things, swapping them around.”  Markus Zusak

When I read The Book Thief and then later saw the movie, my thought was that this had to have been written by a grizzled old writer who had the story in his or her mind for decades, or who had the experiences in a longstanding family history and then finally put them into a book before death got in the way and left the story untold.

So, I was shocked when I learned that this heart-wrenching novel about the awful years in Germany during the late 1930s and through World War II were, in fact, presented to the world by a writer who wrote it in his late 20s and had it published in 2005 at age 30.

Born on this date in 1975, Australian writer Markus Zusak has a wonderful talent that promises the world a rich and diverse literary output for years to come.   While he’s best known for The Book Thief, which was on the New York Times bestseller list for a remarkable 375 weeks, he’s also given us the award-winning I Am the Messenger and When Dogs Cry,
 a testament to perserverance and “knowing that it was a story     
 worth fighting to get published.”  He started When Dogs Cry as a teenager and it took 7 years to get accepted.  Since then it’s not only sold continuously but also won many awards around the globe, as has Zusak, who was named for the annual Margaret Edwards Award in 2014 for his contribution to young-adult literature.    “I try hard and aim big,” Zusak said.   “People can hate or love my books but they can never accuse me of not trying.”

“Failure has been my best friend as a writer,” he said after finally getting When Dogs Cry published.  “It tests you, to see if you have what it takes to see it through.” 

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