Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas


I have very little to say about this very short novel by the Irish writer, John Boyne. In fact, I can't say very much at all without giving a lot of the plot away, and that would spoil it. It is supposedly a book for children. 'Bollocks', I say. It is a beautifully written, stylish composition that throws a harsh light on human ignominy.
This Saturday Afternoon Read will involve you in two childhoods, neither of which any of us would want to experience. But, nonetheless, we will all recognise the view of An Innocent that takes in a moral landscape shaped by perverse adult bigotry. It's not an easy journey.
I recommend that you read it. It's short, but not at all sweet.


The Blakkat said...

Hi Meva,
I haven't actually read this book but my daughter read it last year (she was 11 at the time and borrowed it from the school library). She really engaged in the story but was profoundly upset by it. What this lead to of course was a lot of questions about that time period. Inevitably I had to explain to her about the Nazis & the Holocast, which is a confronting thing to have to tell a child, who was previously ignorant of these events. Watching my daughter process this information, the horror of it became really fresh again as I could see her disbelief and disgust at learning about this, previously unknown, blight on recent human history.

meva said...

Hi Blakkat,

I'm not surprised your 11 year old daughter was upset. I was upset and I am a tad older. It is a horrifying prospect trying to explain that people actually can do these things to each other. It's not something I understand even now.

It's worth a read, you know. It's a slow reveal, and without the historical knowledge of the Nazis and the Holocaust, it would be difficult to understand what the child is referring to.

redcap said...

I don't think this one's for me - I tried to watch The Pianist a little while ago and I just couldn't do it. I got about 45 minutes in and ended up in tears. The scene where the man knocks the stew pot from the old lady's hands and then starts licking the spilled food from the dirt while she sobs is just awful.

Anonymous said...

it's not an easy read, you are right. I only got half way through I am ashamed to say. Once I got wind of where the family was living, I tried so hard to stick it out but the whole premise made me angry and sad and I've read so much on concentration camps that I just couldn't do it.

BUT for a teenage fiction genre, it seems ideal.

Human beings make me so, so angry sometimes that I just can't read anymore about their ignorance.

audrey said...

Brilliant, brilliant book. I was numb after reading it. The main character (and heaven forgive me but I've forgotten his name) is beautifully rendered. I love how they call it Out-With. Perfectly encapsulates the madness of the Holocaust when seen through a child's misunderstanding eyes.

Ariel said...

Sounds great and have heard v. good things about it from a friend working in children's books.