When I first read The Book Thief last year, it captivated me. The writing style amazed me. The narration by “Death” – done in a way which was surprisingly light – intrigued me. The story was original, creative and held an irresistible mixture of serious and humour; engaging and profound.
Understandably, I went to see The Book Thief film with a little trepidation. It’s a trepidation akin to readers who devour a story in book form and then wait to see the film version of it. How the film is done has potential to enhance or even detract from the story which the reader enjoyed. Tolkien fans, you know what I’m talking about!
It turned out that there was no need for such trepidation.
The movie was brilliant and original, in that it didn’t follow every detail in the book to a “tee.” As all the best movie-film adaptions tend to do.
As I do when I admire an author, I research their work. I found Marcus Zusak’s Tumblr page and learnt what he had to say about the process of writing The Book Thief, a work which took three years to create. It’s a thick book!
Why did he choose to use Death as his narrator?
In a sense, the idea chose him: he didn’t go looking for it.
He explains: “The truth, though, is that I stumbled across it, which is usually what happens with our best ideas; the trick is to recognise them as they stare you in the face and not ignore them.”
“The beauty of it is that just as necessity is the mother of all invention, your purest imagination is in solving your problems – to find a way to get it all to work.”
You can read more of his thoughts on this subject here if you like.
Zusak, who cites books like ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’ and ‘Catch 22’ as literary inspiration when he was growing up, gives some advice to other writers.
“I think the main thing is to not be afraid to fail. You’ll be rejected by publishers. You’ll have days of complete lack of faith in your abilities. But you have to keep coming back. That’s when you know you’re a writer – when you take the failures and appear at the desk again, over and over again.”