On Reading Zusak

Remember those writing workshops you went to where they asked you to describe a cloud in 100 different ways? Probably not. You were possibly imagining your tiny self cartwheeling on bookshelves in bookstores across the world and your words lining the lips of your readers. You weren’t paying as much attention because your character was finally tackling that dragon in the dungeon or the chess pieces on the chessboard were waiting to be moved by a brother that came home. You were probably concocting your ending – adding a few jolts, some sparkle of a smile, some beads of tears and confirming closure. You didn’t describe a cloud in 100 ways, did you? Did you think it was overrated? To say the same thing in 100 ways? Why would you put that in a novel? Maybe in your next novel, you thought. And that was that.

But silently, in one corner, Markus Zusak was paying careful attention. He took the class seriously and with erudite skill he began jotting down his thoughts. After the class was over he went home and wrote The Book Thief. He became a best-selling novelist. His tiny self was doing the tap dance on bookshelves across the world and even Death was quoting his written words. That happens when you pay attention to what you write.

I am yet to come across a writer who can describe the same thing in so many ways. In The Book Thief, Zusak has described clouds like none other I have ever read. Not once was it clichéd. Not once over rated. And to much respite, not once repeated. A splendid book on friendship and the spirit of humanity, The Book Thief not only stole my heart, but also gave me the gift of a larger imagination.

Markus Zusak, it has been a pleasure.

In Leisel’s mind, the moon was sewn into the sky that night. Clouds were stitched around it.

…Max, and there is a big long cloud, and it’s stretched out like a rope. At the end of it, the sun is like a yellow hole…

My review of the book can be found here: The Book Thief | Book Review

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