“I’ve seen so many young men over the years who think they’re runnung at other young men. They are not. They’re running at me” –
reminds us Death, the narrator in “The Book Thief” by Marcus Zusak.
At the British Book Centre in June we were talking about the topic as paradoxal as life itself: war and why people do it. They do it again and again. They do it even at the moment I’m writing this post and drinking my morning coffee. We didn’t hope to find the answer and just tried to see how war is reflected in literature and cinema and to remember once again those who should never be forgotten.
The central event was a Book Club devoted to the discussion of Marcus Zusak’s “Book Thief”.
The book was chosen as one that is easy-to-read speaking about language and style and also, notwithstanding its main theme, speaking about the plot. The participant remarked not just once that they loved “the humour” of the book. So how did the author managed to maintain such a style? Certainly, one of the answers might be is that he used Death itself as the narrator. Because, who would be afraid of a friendly and easy-going Gream Reaper?
Another important moment is the important role that the love of reading and words play in the story. Books may harm and books may help to survive. Books are burnt and books are hunted for as the most precious treasure. Words help Liesel understand herself and become an individual, but they are also Fuhrer’s instrument to hypnotize the mass of people.
“Soon there was nothing but scraps of words littered between her legs and all around her. The words. Why did they have to exist? Without them, there wouldn’t be any of this. Without words, the Fuhrer was nothing”.
The third point, we suppose, is how all the basic concepts are reflected: love, sympathy, courage, death, memory – this is a book both for children and for grown-ups. A family reading and a platform for serious discussions.
In the end of the discussion we remembered other works and creators that also contributed to the anti-war theme. Among them are the books: “All Quiet On The Western Front” by E.M.Remarque, “Death Of A Hero” by Richard Aldington, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Farewell To Arms” by Ernest Hemingway, “The Red Badge Of Courage” by Stephen Crane, “The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas” by John Boyne. If you are in St. Petersburg, you can borrow them from our library. If not, you can borrow them from possibly any library in the world, because one can burn a hundred, a million copies of a novel, but they cannot burn the novel.