"The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak
The fascinatingly simple, yet brilliant, premise of this book centres around its original, convincing and gripping method of narration. Death is a resourceful and insightful character who decribes a collection of the writings of a young German girl, Liesel Meminger, which were lost to her during the Second World War. That Death, working so hard in the midst of chaos, should be so warm as to care about the girl, may come as somewhat of a surprise to the reader, but we soon realise that Death has little control over the remit handed to him(?) by his own hard taskmaster, namely, War. What comes across most forcefully in Zusak’s poignant characterisation is a series of memorable individuals who live in the ironically named Himmel Street, on the outskirts of Munich, and who come to suffer much, simply as a result of the Fuhrer’s thirst for power. Although we are shown some extreme examples of Jewish degradation, Zusak manages to convince us that ordinary Germans also suffered heroically in the wake of the Third Reich. Overall, this is a novel that should make it to everyone’s reading list at some time or other, on the grounds that it an outstanding, insightful work of fiction.