Friday, July 18, 2014

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

"I am haunted by humans."

Unusually,these words were delivered from the mouth of 'Death'..Yes death..Death pities mankind for destructing themselves on the name of culture and racism..He was also terrified by seeing the suffering of innocent lives under the rule of dictatorship..'The Book Thief' was written by Markus Zusak,in which the death himself is the narrator..This book falls under the category of adult/Historical fiction in which the plot was set in the period of world war-2,when Hitler was the chancellor of Nazi Germany..
Image from Google
The story starts with the death of Werner,brother of Liesel Meminger in a train to Munich,Germany..Liesel's mother Paula,who is a communist,forcibly gives her up for adoption to the couple Hans Hubermann and Rosa..Thus the eleven year old Liesel arrives at 33,Himmel street in Molching to stay with her foster parents..Himmel Street was not exactly the model of idyllic Molching living.It was well known as a relatively poor neighborhood..The story progresses by introducing us to the wonderful lives of an Accordionist,A Jewish fist fighter,A wardrobe woman,A boy-ardent fan of Jessie Owens and finally The book thief with no words..There is no great story in this book but captivating narration is the key part,or as we call,'Hero' of the story..Somehow,I felt that,this is not just the story of a book thief (Liesel) alone,but a collection of stories depicting  several lives..There is plenty enough lot to explain each and  every character in this story because every person in this story seems beautiful in his/her own way..I mean except 'the Fuhrer'..O.k,lets go further with a "Heil Hitler".. :P

Coming to the characters,
If there was one thing about Liesel Meminger,her thieving was not gratuitous. She
only stole books on what she felt was a need to have basis..She steals The 'Gravedigger's Handbook' in memory of her late brother..But she doesn't know how to read..Then her 'Papa' Hans teaches her in the basement when she wake up at midnight with nightmares..The reading helps to forget her past torment..Gradually stealing and reading books calms her soul..Later,she reads to the people of Himmel street in the basement,when they get together to protect themselves from bombings..The words distract them from the fear of death..

The once Jewish fist fighter,Max who was given shelter by Hans (to keep his word to his late friend),strives to breath under the open sky for he had not seen the outside world for twenty two months..

In the basement of 33 Himmel Street, Max Vandenburg could feel the fists of an entire nation. One by one they climbed into the ring and beat him down. They made him bleed. They let him suffer. Millions of them—until one last time, when he gathered himself to his feet . . .He watched the next person climb through the ropes. It was a girl, and as she slowly crossed the canvas, he noticed a tear torn down her left cheek. In her right hand was a newspaper. “The crossword,” she gently said, “is empty,” and she held it out to him.Dark.Nothing but dark just basement..just jew.

Hans Hubermann in Liesel's words,
Who else would do some painting for the price of half a cigarette? That was Papa,that was typical, and I loved him.

Rosa Hubermann - the good woman for a crisis..In the beginning she appears to be so rude and ordinary,but Max's arrival,unfolds her kind heart veiled by rudeness.

Do you ever heard the existence of 'Possessive Books'? Yeah,this is certainly one of a kind..Because it never allowed me to exist in the reality while reading it..The illustrations kept me  spellbound with the blinding white of the snow,red rain clouds and chocolate death and constantly made me feel the floating clouds of Himmel street..The best part of the book is the poetic expressions and sarcastic narrations of Death.It depicts the strange distinctions between the cruelty of mankind and kindness of death..

Death describes the air of a situation with the help of colours...Emotions,war atmosphere,suffering and melancholy were depicted in terms of colours,so that we could experience the gloominess of situation.

People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations, with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spat blues. Murky darknesses.In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.As I’ve been alluding to, my one saving grace is distraction. It keeps me sane. It helps me cope.
Image from Google
We come across many heart melting illustrations of war period in this book..The generous man Hans giving bread to a Jewish prisoner,Later Rudy and Liesel taking the task from him in his absence and hiding in trees..Indignity and helplessness of Max for he to become a burden to the poor Hans family and his struggle for existence in the basement..Michale's suicide note and Frau Holtzapfel's open invitation to death..And the list goes on..

'Thank you'.For Max Vandenburg, those were the two most pitiful words he could possibly say, rivaled only by I’m sorry.There was a constant urge to speak both expressions, spurred on by the affliction of guilt.How many times in those first few hours of awakeness did he feel like walking out of that basement and leaving the house altogether? It must have been hundreds.Each time, though, it was only a twinge.

When Max fell ill with severe cold,Liesel prays for his life and reads to him,She brings him 13 gifts.
He was the second snowman to be melting away before her eyes, only this one was different. It was a paradox.The colder he became, the more he melted.

Death's job troubles in his own words,
They say that war is death’s best friend, but I must offer you a different point of view on that one. To me, war is like the new boss who expects the impossible. He stands over your shoulder repeating one thing, incessantly: “Get it done, get it done.” So you work harder. You get the job done. The boss, however, does not thank you.He asks for more.

Few more lines from book,I loved every bit of it..What to do !!

It amazes me what humans can do, even when streams are flowing down their faces and they stagger on,coughing and searching, and finding.

In the tree shadows, Liesel watched the boy. How things had changed, from fruit stealer to bread giver. His blond hair, although darkening, was like a candle. She heard his stomach growl—and he was giving people bread.

Silence was not quiet or calm, and it was not peace.

I’m compelled to continue on, because although it’s not true for every person on earth, it’s true for the vast majority—that death waits for no man—and if he does, he doesn’t usually wait very long.

“Maybe if we say ‘heil Hitler’ and then steal something, we’ll be all right.”

In your situation, a dead Jew is just as dangerous as a live one, if not worse.

Life had altered in the wildest possible way, but it was imperative that they act as if nothing at all had happened..Imagine smiling after a slap in the face.Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day.That was the business of hiding a Jew.

For now, Rudy and Liesel made their way onto Himmel Street in the rain.He was the crazy one who had painted himself black and defeated the world.She was the book thief without the words.

It’s much easier, she realized, to be on the verge of something than to actually be it. This would still take time.

It's a wonderful story full of emotions..In particular,this book is for book lovers..Who ever feel the touch of a paper and  love the smell of books and beautiful words would definitely fall in love with this book...And here is the proof,

Steadily, the room shrank, till the book thief could touch the shelves within a few small steps. She ran the back of her hand along the first shelf, listening to the shuffle of her fingernails gliding across the spinal cord of each book. It sounded like an instrument, or the notes of running feet. She used both hands. She raced them. One shelf against the other. And she laughed. Her voice was sprawled out, high in her throat, and when she eventually stopped and stood in the middle of the room, she spent many minutes looking from the shelves to her fingers and back again.How many books had she touched? How many had she felt?

This book was also made in to a movie in 2013.
My heartfelt thanks to my dear friend Latha Jee for recommending such a wonderful book..:)

Pages :592
Price :Rs.374 /-
Publisher : RHUK


magiceye said...

Seems fascinating.

తృష్ణ said...

Very interesting! Will try to eatch the film.

నిరంతరమూ వసంతములే.... said...

Good review..

Found In Folsom said...

Wow..Nagini that was such a detailed review. I can never write book reviews and quote something from what I have already read. They must have floated by the time I came to the end of the book. And thank you for the special mention at the end. Here's three cheers to more reading. You wanted me to read the book again.

Bikram said...

is the film on the same name ..

seems to be a good one :) I would like to see it indeed


A Homemaker's Utopia said...

Thanks a ton Deepak,Trushna Jee & Suresh Jee :) :)

A Homemaker's Utopia said...

@ Found in Folsom,
Here is the trick Latha Jee.I've a habit of marking favourite lines and writing the corresponding page numbers at the end..Capturing lines :P..That's it :)
Enjoy reading :)Once again thanks a ton for referring this wonderful book.:)

A Homemaker's Utopia said...

@ Bikram,
Yes it's with same title Bikram..
Here is the link
Thanks a lot for stopping by :)

Anita said...

Wow! The cover looks great. Nice review :)
Yet to read or watch the movie, Nagini...

..nagarjuna.. said...

I watched the movie following Rahman's suggestion and seeing your post title. Wondered what made you write a review when I finished it as the movie was not so good. So read this post .. those movie folks have probably missed a great deal, quotes you've mentioned are much interesting than the movie!

A Homemaker's Utopia said...

@ Anita,
Thank you so much Anita :)

A Homemaker's Utopia said...

@ Nagarjuna chary,
Even I wonder,how could such subject made it to a movie for I've not I watched the movie yet..దీన్ని సినిమా తియ్యడం చాలా బాడ్ ఐడియా అండీ.ఈ బుక్ లో మానసిక విశ్లేషణలు,భావోద్వేగాలు చాలా ఎక్కువ.వాటిని యథాతధంగా స్క్రీన్ మీద చూపించడం అసంభవం.మీరు తప్పకుండా పుస్తకం చదవండి.అద్భుతమైన రచన.మృత్యువు మాటలు,ఆ చిన్న పాప ఆలోచనలు లైఫ్ అంటే 'అపురూపం' అనే భావాన్ని కలిగిస్తాయి..నేను రెండో సారి చదివిన పుస్తకాలు బహు అరుదు..ఇది మరోసారి చదవాలనిపించినంత నచ్చింది.:)It is one of the best narrated books so far..థాంక్ యు సో మచ్ చారి గారు..:)

Seeta said...

Bought the book recently, yet to get started on it though.. but I am sure of one thing, however good the movie is, the book is bound to be better :)

Ankur Anand said...

i have watched the movie .. it was so good .. Sophie Nélisse she was brilliant ! havent read the book ! but seems a wonderful review based on movie !

A Homemaker's Utopia said...

@ Seeta,
Agree with you Seeta..Thanks a lot for dropping by :)

A Homemaker's Utopia said...

@ Ankur Anand,
Yet to watch the movie Ankur..But the book is truely wonderful..Don't miss it.Thanks a lot :)

Sonali Mukherji said...

wow....lovely blog...keep in touch...please join my blog- The Pink Dewdrops

Indrani said...

Wow! Great review! I am now tempted to read the book before I watch the movie!

A Homemaker's Utopia said...

@Sonali Mukherji,
Thanks a lot for stopping by :)

A Homemaker's Utopia said...

@ Indrani,
Good Good...Thanks a lot dear :)

Barbara Fisher said...

Hi Nagini, I so want to read this it’s been on my ‘must’ list for a while, thank you for reminding me. Barbara

A Homemaker's Utopia said...

@ Barbara,
It was a wonderful book Barbara..Happy reading :)

Anonymous said...

What a nice thing! I just last week finished this book and happened to stumble on your blog. Wasn't it a delight to read this book, the way Markus got too deep at times while narrating the parts of Death!.

Following your blog now, you have such a nice blog here! :)

Elizabeth said...

This is another book that I always wanted to read, but never got hold of copy.

పద్మవల్లి said...

Very nice introduction to a wonderful book. Yes, the beauty of this book lies in the narration, than in the story itself. The prose is a beautiful lyrical poetry.

I just loved Hans, Rosa and Rudy.

A Homemaker's Utopia said...

@ Padmavalli,
What you said is true Padma garu.Thank you so much for being here :)