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Markus Zusak (1975-) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

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Born 1975, in Sydney, Australia; married.

Agent—c/o Publicity Department, Pan Macmillan Australia, Level 18, St Martin's Tower, 31 Market St., Sydney, New South Wales 2000, Australia.

Writer; formerly a janitor and a high school English teacher.

Older Readers Honor Book of the Year, Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA), 2001, for Fighting Ruben Wolfe; Older Readers Honor Book of the Year, CBCA, and Young Adult Book of the Year, Queensland Premier's Literary Awards, both 2002, for When Dogs Cry; Older Readers Book of the Year, CBCA, and Ethel Turner Prize, New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, both 2003, for The Messenger.

The Underdog, Omnibus Books (Norwood, South Australia, Australia), 1999.

Fighting Ruben Wolfe, Omnibus Books (Norwood, South Australia, Australia), 2000, Arthur A. Levine (New York, NY), 2001.

When Dogs Cry, Pan Macmillan Australia (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2001, published as Getting the Girl, Arthur A. Levine (New York, NY), 2003.

The Messenger, Pan Macmillan Australia (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2002, Knopf (New York, NY), in press.

Since the publication of his first novel in 1999, Markus Zusak has rapidly become one of the hottest young authors in Australia. In his books, Zusak, the son of working-class immigrants to Australia, tells the stories of other disadvantaged young men struggling against bad circumstances and their own internal demons to improve themselves and their lives. "Stories have always told me where I was from," Zusak told Teenreads.com interviewer Tammy L. Currier. "[My parents'] hardships and struggle to live decent lives are probably the basis of everything I approach. Also, when I see my friends, we laugh and carry on, and it's our stories that give us that laughter. I guess without stories we'd be empty."

Zusak's award-winning pair of novels about the Wolfe brothers, Fighting Ruben Wolfe and When Dogs Cry (published in the United States as Getting the Girl) has received a good deal of critical attention, both in his native Australia and in the United States. The books are written "in earthy, working-class dialect," a critic noted in a Publishers Weekly review of Fighting Ruben Wolfe, and are told from the point of view of Ruben Wolfe's younger brother, Cameron. The Wolfe brothers are teenagers in a blue-collar household that has fallen on hard times since their father was injured and lost his job as a plumber. Their mother works scrubbing floors, but it is not enough to make ends meet. So when, near the beginning of Fighting Ruben Wolfe, the boys are approached by a man who runs illegal boxing matches, they accept the chance to bring in extra money by fighting. Ruben, long a participant in after-school fistfights, has no problems adapting to boxing; billed as "Fighting Ruben Wolfe," he wins most of his matches, bringing home fifty dollars in prize money after each one. Cameron, who is the more reserved of the two, has trouble and gets the ring name "The Underdog," but he stays in the ring and fights through his fear with such "heart" that the spectators often throw him tips in acknowledgment of his tenacity. "The fast-paced narrative captures the physical rigors of the boxing ring as well as the emotional turmoil and the ultimate unity of the troubled Wolfe family," commented Peter D. Sieruta in a Horn Book review of Fighting Ruben Wolfe. Although the two brothers eventually are forced to face each other in the ring, they remain close; each chapter of the book concludes with a conversation between the two.

Zusak explained to Currier that the relationship between Ruben and Cameron is "my brother and me all over—not giving each other an inch at home, but willing to die for each other in the world." Zusak and his older brother even used to box each other in their backyard, "and being younger and smaller than my brother, he really used to beat the crap out of me," he continued.

In When Dogs Cry, the sequel to Fighting Ruben Wolfe, "Zusak explores the deep if inexpressible desire to create, as well as the intersection between family loyalty and romantic affection," explained a Kirkus Reviews contributor in a review of the U.S. edition titled Getting the Girl. The Wolfe brothers have given up boxing, and Cameron has turned to writing as a means to express himself and to try to figure out who he is. At the moment, he seems to be a loner and a loser, as he wanders the streets by himself and pines outside the house of a girl who cannot stand him. Life starts looking up when Octavia, a sweet girl recently dumped by Ruben, turns her affection to Cameron, but Ruben objects to their blossoming romance. "The interaction of the characters is the real strength of this novel," Janet Hilbun commented in School Library Journal.

Zusak is also the author of The Messenger, a novel about an aimless twenty-year-old cab driver named Ed. Ed is a laid-back nobody until he helps to foil a botched bank robbery and someone begins sending him playing cards with addresses written on them. Each address, Ed discovers, leads him to someone who needs help: an abused wife, a lonely old woman, a struggling athlete. By helping these people, Ed begins to find a purpose and meaning in life. Zusak "is a keen observer of the bonds that both connect and stifle relationships," Denise Civelli wrote in the Herald Sun, and he is also "gifted in unveiling enchantment in the simple dealings of everyday life."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Advertiser (Adelaide, South Australia, Australia), August 18, 2001, "The Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards," p. L19; August 17, 2002, "The Best Children's Books," p. W11; August 16, 2003, "Children's Book of the Year Awards," p. W09.

Booklist, February 15, 2001, Bill Ott, review of Fighting Ruben Wolfe, p. 1129; May 15, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of Getting the Girl, p. 1656.

Daily Telegraph (Surry Hills, New South Wales, Australia), August 23, 2003, Ray Chesterton, interview with Zusak, p. 30.

Herald Sun (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), October 12, 2002, Denise Civelli, review of The Messenger, p. W30.

Horn Book, March, 2001, Peter D. Sieruta, review of Fighting Ruben Wolfe, p. 217; May-June, 2003, Peter D. Sieruta, review of Getting the Girl, p. 360.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2003, review of Getting the Girl, p. 402.

Publishers Weekly, February 26, 2001, review of Fighting Ruben Wolfe, p. 87.

School Library Journal, March, 2001, Edward Sullivan, review of Fighting Ruben Wolfe, p. 258; April, 2003, Janet Hilbun, review of Getting the Girl, p. 171.

Sunday Tasmanian (Hobart, Tasmania, Australia), December 15, 2002, Richard Sprent, review of The Messenger, p. T18.

ONLINE

Pan Macmillan Australia Web Site, http://www.panmacmillan.com.au/ (October, 2002), "An Interview with Markus Zusak."

Scholastic Australia Web Site, http://www.scholastic.com.au/ (October 6, 2003), "Profiles: Markus Zusak."

Teenreads.com, http://www.teenreads.com/ (October 6, 2003), Tammy L. Currier, interview with Zusak.*

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over 3 years ago

Dear Mr. Zusak,
I am a high school senior living in Massachusetts. I have been reading your novel the book thief and I was trying to verbalize why I loved it so much. The comparison of your sentences that comes to mind is a Lays potato chip. They are salty, sweet, savory and simple. After one my eyes glaze over and my surroundings melt. I savor it's taste as I physically shiver with it's complication, simplicity and perfection. Slowly I reach in the bag for another attempting to create the appearance that I'm calm and in control when in fact I would desire nothing more to shovel them in my mouth faster than I can swallow. Thank you for your donation to literature and the world.

Daniel Copeland

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about 4 years ago

Dear Mr. Zausak,

I was wandering in your book The Book Thief why Rudy didn't want to run the 4th race in the Nazi games to be like Jesse Owens. My whole freshman class is reading this book and we think it is just wonderful! The idea of this book is just out of this world! I need you to answer the question from above for me to get extra credit in my english class. I think I know the answer to it but my teacher wants to hear the answer from you! If you could email me as soon as possible that would be great!

Thanks so much,

Alli

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about 3 years ago

Ok but i would like more. not enough to do anything in. It was more in computer form and looked liike it was written by a second gader no offence. BUT the book was awesome

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over 3 years ago

Zusak is the most refreshing, interesting and creative writer I have come across in a long long time. As I read each book I look madly around for someone to read passages too and say WOW listen to this.. this writing is so amazing... His use of metaphor and personification is unique. As an English teacher I present extracts to my classes (yet to get a full set for the classroom of any) and jump and down with excitement about the writing. Sad reality is most think I am crazy lol.. but the odd face lights up!! I have one student using Zusak for advanced literary theme study and she is bubbling over the writing. KEEP WRITING PLEASE!!

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over 4 years ago

Can somebody please give me Markus Zusak's mailing address?? I really want to tell him how much i appreciate 'The Book Thief'.

Thanks

Nat

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over 3 years ago

Dear Markus Zusak,

I don't know if you read this or not, but I just finished my first book that is written by you, "The book theif". I just wanted to say that I loved it. "The book theif" inspred me, and taught me some lessons, and a little history. It was really interesting to read a story like that taking place in Germany, especialy since I'm part German, but I loved reading "The book theif" and it is, in my opinion, one of the best books I've ever read. When I finished it, it left me wondering about what happens next and just thinking about Leisel getting reunited with all of her old family and friends made me want another book to tell what happened after death took her with him. Having Death as a narrator was a really good Idea too. A book like this that teaches a little history is really a fun way to learn the history, a brake from all the text books while I was reading it. :)

Thanks for writeing it!

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over 3 years ago

Mr. Zusak,

I love to read and I have read many different books. Generally fantasy is my favourite genre with historical fiction falling in third or fourth place, but I must say, The Book Theif is without a doubt, my favourite book of all time! I adored it and I don't think I could forget it if I tried :)



Thank you.

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almost 4 years ago

I LOVE your books...I'm reading The Book Thief right now for 8th grade Literaure, roght now...

:)!



LOL:)

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9 months ago

Dear Mr. Zusack
I noticed that everybody else on this website is talking about The Book Theif, which I read a couple years ago. I liked it okay, but I just finished I Am The Messenger, and I think it was a heck of a lot better. In fact, I think it might even be my new favorite book. The only problem is, I have a whole lot of questions about it, and I would sincerely appreciate it if I were able to write to you somehow, because I don't think I can fit all the things I have to say into these little tiny boxes. I was actually hoping one of other people who wrote comments here might have your adress or something, but it looks all of this was posted more than two years ago! Anyway, I really want to know more about The Messenger, and being an aspiring author myself, I was hoping maybe you could even give me a few tips. Of course, that's probably way too much to ask, because I'm sure you're probably quite busy. Shoot, you probably don't even bother read these things, do you? I might as well be writing a letter to a figment of my imagination. Still,on the off chance that you are reading this right now, just know that I would be honored to talk to you, and I sincerely hope that you would be willing to share some of your book-writing wisdom with me.

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almost 2 years ago

That isngiht's just what I've been looking for. Thanks!......:)
http://www.callpills.com/

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about 4 years ago

The Book Thief - though I've read millions of books, this will, among a few, stay forever in my mind and heart. Or at least till I'ts my soul to be collected :-). Thank you very much, mr Markus Zusak. You discribed hell and still there's som kind of hope.

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over 4 years ago

"The Book Thief" I would rate as one of the best books I have ever read. I am 45 and have read thousands. This book came to me from my 16year son, reading the book for an English assignment. He was extremely moved by the book and said I must read it. I came across this site when searching for further information on Markus Zusak, i.e. his background, is he jewish, where the idea/research for this book and story evovled from. I am not jewish or german, but believe the human story he has told is one that will reach and touch many people. It would be good if your website could give some background as to this book. Thank you.

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about 4 years ago

I'm guest speaker at Shanghai schools in March next year. I would like to call or email you to discuss a few things.

many thanks

jan

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over 2 years ago

Dear Mt Zusak, I am a member of the Shire Future's Project that is seeking ways to improve Sutherland Shire and lay foundations for the future.
I am responsible for Arts,Culture and Entertainment and one of the events I envisage is a Literary Weekend incorporating Short Story and Poetry competitions at 2 levels - adult and schoolchildren.

We are conducting a Forum on Friday 28 September at the Tradies Club, Gymea from 1.30 - 5.30pm and inviting leaders from the 5 targeted areas to attend and participate.

We would be honoured to have you attend and your input would be invaluable.

Should you require further information please do not hesitate to email me and i will send you the documents.

I hope you will accept this invitation and take part in this exciting innovation.

Kind regards Johnny Pace

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almost 3 years ago

how can i purchase an autograph copy of the book thief?

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about 3 years ago

Dear Mr. Zusak,
My english professor absolutely loves books, and even though she has her own copy of The Book Thief, I would very much like to purchase an autographed one for her. She is the reason at the age of 52 that I decided to stay in college to persue a major in history as I very much would love to become a writer. Our last essay was based on The Book Thief..how war affects the home front. Before reading your book, I always thought war was a black/white issue so to speak, meaning there had to be a right side/ bad side etc, but what I discovered is everyone, regardless of what side they are on loses someone or something..the book had me feeling sorry not just for Max, but for Liesel, the Steiners and so on. Thank-you for an excellent read.

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about 3 years ago

Mr. Zusak,
I have read hundreds and hundreds of books in my lifetime, but not one like "The Book Thief". The nariation is painful and brilliant and so very honest. It is definitely one to be read and remembered time after time.

Thank you very much for this glimpse into the past.

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almost 3 years ago

dear Mr. Zusak,
I was reading your life changing book the Book Thief.it was amazing

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over 2 years ago

Em uma época em que pelo menos aqui(Brasil) ressaltam escritores que escrevem sobre Bruxas, Vampiros, Ficções enfim...(Não desmerecendo é óbvio tais escritores que merecem todas as suas Glórias)! Mas ler MARKUS ZUSAK - (A Menina que Roubava Livros) fez-me Respeitar e Até Entender a Sra. Morte em seu Trabalho incompreensível...Fiquei íntima de Liesel , e foi-me dolorido despedir-me dela...Sinto um vazio em meu peito, mas a certeza que muitos valores estão sendo repensados!
Obrigada Menino Markus; Adoraria t dar um Abraço bem forte e demorado e perguntar baixinho: Fale-me mais da Rua Himmel? Fique com DEUS!

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over 2 years ago

Hi,

please can somebody give me his mailing address? I´m doing a homework about him and it would be amazing to write more about him. I can´t find so much information about him on the internett and he´s not in any of our libary books.



I´ve read "the book thief" and I´m going to read "the messenger". I really love all his books!!