RAO students recently attended the "One Book, One Chicago" event featuring a conversation between journalist Dawn Turner Trice and The Book Thief author, Markus Zusak. They were impressed by Zusak's youthfulness, his casual attire, and his Australian accent. As he sat onstage at the Harold Washington Library center, Zusak was gracious and thoughtful about the questions posed to him. He seemed like a genuine type of guy, humbled at having authored a book that not only spent 266 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, but has been translated into no less than 30 languages!
It was great being in the company of other readers who have enjoyed The Book Thief or are currently reading it, as RAO students are. Who would have known that Death---personified---could bring so many people together by being a champion of humanity?
Dawn Turner Trice really asked the kinds of questions readers wanted to know the answers to. She got Zusak talking about the power of words and books, and how healing wounds and learning to read informs the tender bond between Hans Hubermann and Liesel Meminger. He talked about the mysterious ways in which personal experiences and his parents' stories have found their way into his writing. When talking about the the writing process, both Markus Zusak and Dawn Turner Trice agreed that writers "beg, borrow, and steal" material from everyday life and people. Sometimes, in the act of writing about things that are messy and convoluted, harmony reveals itself.