WRITING STYLE IN ‘THE BOOK THIEF’ by Marcus Zusack
2. All writers are ‘book thieves' for they discover secretive tactics for undermining the
reader's capacity to interpret a narrative, and steal into their hearts with their
expression and style. Zusak's way with words is singularly inventive, since he uses
figures of speech in a totally original, cryptic and poetic manner . eg ‘When the train
pulled into the Bahnhof in Munich , the passengers slid out as if from a torn package.' (p
25) Rosa ‘looked like a small wardrobe with a coat thrown over it.' (p 28) ‘Burning words
were torn from their sentences.'(p 121) ‘Birds above did laps.'(p 121) ‘Rudy…barely able to
contain a grin. It ran across his face like a skid.'(p 175) ‘The town hall stood like a giant,
ham-fisted youth, too big for his age.' (p 183) ‘There were no people on the street
anymore. They were rumours carrying bags.'(p 410) ‘They were going to Dachau, to
concentrate.'(p 415) ‘Faces like ghost towns.' (p 443)
Did you notice a particularly evocative piece of writing like these?
3. Setting is particularly resonantly evoked by often ascribing ‘emotions' to a place. eg
‘The house was pale, almost sickly-looking, with an iron gate and a brown spit-stained
door.'(p 184) What impression does this give the reader of the atmosphere on Himmel
Street? Read the description of Molching and Liesel's arrival on Himmel Street (pp 26-27).
What techniques does the writer use to create a picture of this place?
4. The humour in this novel has an edge of darkness (understandably since it is narrated
by Death!), and despite the fact that it is largely seen through German eyes, it is also
coloured by the distinctive tone of Jewish humour . ‘How do you tell if something's alive?
You check for breathing.' (p 39) When Rosa is at her bleakest clutching the accordion after
Hans has left, Liesel hears her snoring: ‘Who needs bellows, she thought, when you've got a
pair of lungs like that?' (p 458) ‘It kills me sometimes, how people die.'(p 494)
Did you find this novel amusing? Find examples where you appreciated the black humour at work.