Markus Zusak began his career as a successful writer of young adult fiction, but for his fifth novel, Zusak set out to relate the experiences of his parents growing up during World War II for an adult audience. Zusak has said that much of the...
Born in Sydney, Australia, Markus Zusak began his career writing young adult fiction. The Underdog, Zusak's first novel, was published in 1999 and followed by two sequels, Fighting Ruben Wolfe (2001) and When Dogs Cry (2002). Zusak's 2002 novel The Messenger was well received internationally, winning several awards including a Michael L. Printz Honor selection, a citation given for literary excellence in young adult literature.
In 2006, Zusak's fifth novel The Book Thief was published in his native Australia as the author's first work of "adult" fiction, yet marketed by its American publisher Knopf as another work of young adult fiction. Successful upon publication, over one million copies of The Book Thief have been sold internationally, and the novel received a Printz Honor.
Zusak was born to an Austrian father and a German mother, both of whom experienced World War II firsthand in their native countries. Zusak has stated that The Book Thief was unlike anything he had written before and largely inspired by stories his parents told him as a child about wartime Munich and Vienna. Zusak has specifically singled out two stories his mother told him, one of the bombing of Munich, and one of Jews being marched through Zusak's mother's town on their way to the Dachau concentration camp.
Like The Book Thief's character of Hans Hubermann, Zusak's father was a house painter, and at an early age Zusak wanted to be a house painter as well. Zusak began writing as a teenager, and cited The Old Man and the Sea and What's Eating Gilbert Grape as inspirations. Zusak's sixth novel, a young adult fiction titled Bridge of Clay, is to be published in November 2009.