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Read the attached article and answer the following questions about the author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, John Boyne.

1.  When did John Boyne publish the novel, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

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2.  The article refers to Boyne as a “contemporary Irish novelist.”  What does that mean?

3.  When did Boyne first develop his interest in writing?

4.  What other work has Boyne published?

5.  What is the main criticism this article leveled concerning the novel, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

John Boyne

John Boyne is a contemporary Irish Novelist. He writes novels for both adult and young audience and is famous for writing the acclaimed children’s book, entitled The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2006).

He was born on 30 April 1971 in Dublin, Ireland. Since a very early age he used to devour major literary works like The Count of Monte CristoRobinson Crusoe and Treasure Island. At the age of twelve he developed a keen interest in writing. Therefore, he set out to major in English Literature from the Trinity College, Dublin. Then he studied creative writing at the renowned institution in Norwich, the University of East Anglia. Here he earned the Curtis Brown prize for his literary contribution. Boyne began his writing career with short story writing and made his writing debut with the story, titled “Entertainments Jar”, which was shortlisted for the Hennessy Literary Award. In the early years he mostly wrote short stories and published around 70 of them.

Subsequently, Boyne delved into adult fiction writing. His first novel was published in the year 2000 by the title The Thief of Time. The novel is set in the mid eighteenth century and focuses on the protagonist Matthieu Zela. Zela is shown to have fled Paris to Dover after witnessing his mother’s murder at the hand of his stepfather. As the story progresses it takes a fantastical form as the protagonist discovers himself to be ageless. The author sketches the life a man who had a lifetime to fulfill his dreams and to live on and experience many different lives. The novel also traces the major events occurred during the time period spanning from mid eighteenth century to the end of twentieth century. Boyne was highly commended on his literary debut.

John Boyne continued to write novels for his adult audience. However, in 2006 he shifted his interest to children’s book as he published his masterpiece, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. It is not a conventional book for young readers with a lighthearted tone and a happy ending. The story is set in Germany and centers on a nine-year-old boy Bruno, who is unaware of the horrors of the ongoing World War II. He is oblivious of the cruelties inflicted by his compatriot on other races. As his family is relocated to a desolate place, he makes a Jewish friend named Shmuel, who lives there in war camp. It is this friendship that offers him enlightenment about the grim truth.

Besides that the book charts the transformation of an innocent child into an aware being who inevitably becomes the victim of the gruesome war. Although it is deemed children’s classic, the storyline and the insight into WWII makes it an adult read. While the book received rave reviews, it also garnered harsh criticism from some of the critics. These critics are of the view that Boyne tried to trivialize the horrors of war camps based in Germany. Holocaust is one of the darkest chapters in the history of the world and fictionalizing the facts to suit a children’s story not only undermines the history but also misleads children into taking these serious issues lightly.

Since The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas established Boyne’s position as a major children’s writer, he produced three more successful children’s books. The titles include Noah Barleywater Runs AwayThe Stay Where You Are And Then Leave and Terrible Thing That Happened To Barnaby Brocket. John Boyne has earned Irish Book Awards, Hennessy Literary Award and The Qué Leer Award. His books have been translated into 46 languages.

“John Boyne.” John Boyne | Biography, Books and Facts, www.famousauthors.org/john-boyne.

Retrieved 2/8/2021 at 8:25 AM

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