I just read The Book Thief. (The author is Markus Zusak) And even though I knew how it was all going to turn out (anything set in Nazi Germany can only end in one way right?) I couldn’t help it! There was a lump the size of Gibraltar in my throat as I was came to the end. It wasn’t the story itself  – as I said it was mostly predictable – though the take on it was different. First it was about the experience of the ordinary German citizens in Germany. But mostly it was about the power of books and words (a theme that is also running through another recent favorite called Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, though that one was not a tearjerker) . What got me most about The Book Thief was the writing style. There was an odd, almost deliberate dissonance to the narrative and while normally such gimmicks annoy me, it really worked for some reason in this book. Also the fact that the narrator was “Death” was an interesting device both from the narrative and plot perspective.

Strangely enough though this book had been published 2005 I only just came across it now. But maybe that’s because Zusak is an Australian. Then again, it isn’t as if I found it in a bookstore there, no it was while browsing for Kindle books on Amazon. Which I could have been doing anywhere. But coincidences happen. And worlds collide. And my world was shaken as result in a way that I’m profoundly grateful for. Words really are tremendously powerful.

On the subject of the title of the post, I should also mention The Kite Runner, which is another book I could not help sobbing over. That one had a very different kind of power – the kind I feel every time I pick up To Kill a Mocking Bird. Like the person captured a time and place and experience so perfectly that all one can do really is move on. Khalas! There’s nothing more that can be said on the subject. And to suit action to word, I shall make my exit here.

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