Writing. Family. Relationships and struggle.
These are all things that John Boyne writes about ... and writes about really well. He writes characters that seem so real, it's as if you know them, and could stop them in the street to chat. He writes about events so vividly that it's like you're watching a movie without even leaving your couch. And he puts in plot twists and turns, so that even when you think you know where a story is headed, you'll still find yourself rereading paragraphs and pages, and trying to work out how instead of getting from Point A to Point B, you've somehow gone way past that and gone all the way to points J, K, and L!
I was first introduced to Boyne's writing in the way many of us were, I imagine - through The Boy in the Striped Pyjamasopens a new window. This story - a tale of friendship between two young boys in the most unimaginable of circumstances - had me rushing to get through it, to find out what happened, and to know what happened to the characters I felt such a connection with. It was a magical book that has stuck with me, and that I've recommended to many in the years since I read it. It has been made into a movie, and although 'the movie is never as good as the book', it has meant non-readers have been able to share in his story and I think that's a big positive.
I've also read other books by him, and in fact at the moment I'm reading AND listening to two different titles (A Ladder to the Skyopens a new window and The Heart's Invisible Furiesopens a new window), and am thoroughly engrossed in both of them.
Boyne writes across different decades, capturing the different social and cultural norms and attitudes of the time, and this is one of the things I like most about reading him. Both the books I'm currently enjoying by him span several decades and generations. With a time-travelling protagonist and a timeline spanning 1743 to 1999, The Thief of Time covers even longer!
I'm really excited that John Boyne is coming to Ōtautahi this month as part of the WORD Christchurch Autumn Season (8 to 25 May 2019). He'll be discussing A Ladder to the Sky, and also his new Young Adult book, My Brother's Name is Jessicaopens a new window. There is so much going on in the former that I am fascinated to hear where he gets his inspiration and ideas from, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the latter. Although there are more and more books being published with Trans* and gender-diverse characters, there is always room for more, and although he deals with homosexuality in some of his other books, I am excited to hear how he treats his Trans* character in his latest work.
Presented in association with The Dunedin Writers and Readers Festivalopens a new window, and supported by Culture Irelandopens a new window, John Boyne: In Conversationopens a new window will be held at The Piano on Monday 13 May, 6pm to 7pm, so if you're like me and want to find out more about the man and his novels, come along for what I'm sure will be an entertaining and insightful evening.
In the meantime, or if you can't make it along, check out his books at the library for you to read at home.
John Boyne: In Conversation - Monday 13 May 6pm to 7pm
John Boyne, one of Ireland’s most respected contemporary writers and author of many acclaimed books, such as The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and The Heart’s Invisible Furies, returns with a “deliciously dark” new novel. A Ladder to the Sky is a roman-à-clef of the literary world, full of ambition, betrayal and scandal. Unafraid to tackle provocative themes, Boyne will discuss the inspiration behind the book, and his new YA novel My Brother’s Name is Jessica, with Paul Millar.