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Boys in Stripped Pyjama's - John Boyne

Thursday, 8 March 2007


Boy In Stripped Pyjamas Author John Boyne is in to talk about the success of his book, the forthcoming Irish Book Awards and the start of filming for the movie of the book in Eastern Europe begins next month. 

About John
John was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1971 and studied English Literature at Trinity College, Dublin. Between 1994-95 he was a student on the Creative Writing M.A. at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, where he was awarded the Curtis Brown prize. I returned to UEA as Writing Fellow ten years later, during 2005.
His early work was mostly short stories and he had published quite a few before his first novel was published, one of which was shortlisted for a Hennessy Literary Award in Ireland. Over the last few years he has returned to writing stories and they have appeared in various publications. Five of his children's stories have been televised and a couple of others have been broadcast on RTE Radio and the BBC.

His first three novels were The Thief of Time (2000), The Congress of Rough Riders (2001) and Crippen (2004), the first of which was longlisted for the Irish Times Literature Award and the third of which was shortlisted for the Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year Award. They span various events and times in history, although parts of the first two are located in contemporary settings from London to Tokyo.

His fourth novel, The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, was published in 2006 in both children's and adult's editions. A New York Times Bestseller, it spent 36 weeks at no.1 in Ireland, reached no.1 in Australia, was also UK top 10 bestseller and features in many European bestseller charts. It was shortlisted for the Ottakar's Children's Book Prize, the Berkshire Book Award, the Sheffield Book Award in the UK, the Paolo Ungari Literary Award in Italy, and the Borders' Original Voices Award in the USA; it is currently on the longlist for the 2007 Carnegie Medal. It has also been shortlisted for 3 Irish Book Awards, including the Novel of the Year award. The Miramax/Disney film of the novel is due to start shooting in Eastern Europe in April 2007, directed by Mark Herman and produced by David Heyman.

His fifth novel, Next of Kin, was published in October 2006.
His novels are published in 25 languages.
He has taught creative writing at the Irish Writers' Centre and contributes book reviews and articles to various publications; he also writes a weekly 'short short story' for the Sunday Tribune newspaper in Ireland. These stories are available to read on site a few days after publication by clicking the short stories tab on the website menu.

A bit about the book
Boyne has written a sort of historical allegory, a vividly descriptive tale that clearly elucidates the atmosphere in Nazi Germany during the early 1940s that enabled the persecution of Eastern European Jews.

Through the eyes of Bruno, a naive nine-year-old raised in a privileged household by strict parents whose expectations included good manners and unquestioning respect for parental authority, the author describes a visit from the Fury and the family's sudden move from Berlin to a place called Out-With in Poland.

There, not 50 feet away, a high wire fence surrounds a huge dirt area of low huts and large square buildings. From his bedroom window, Bruno can see hundreds (maybe thousands) of people wearing striped pajamas and caps, and something made him feel very cold and unsafe. Uncertain of what his father actually does for a living, the boy is eager to discover the secret of the people on the other side. He follows the fence into the distance, where he meets Shmuel, a skinny, sad-looking Jewish resident who, amazingly, has his same birth date. Bruno shares his thoughts and feelings with Shmuel, some of his food, and his final day at Out-With, knowing instinctively that his father must never learn about this friendship. While only hinting at violence, blind hatred, and deplorable conditions, Boyne has included pointed examples of bullying and fearfulness.

His combination of strong characterization and simple, honest narrative make this powerful and memorable tale a unique addition to Holocaust literature for those who already have some knowledge of Hitler's Final Solution.

For more information
Boy in Stripped Pyjamas was published by David Fickling Books.
The Irish Book Awards take place in March. This huge best seller has been nominated for three Irish Book Awards including the Tubridy Show Listeners prize. 

The book is also being made into a movie by Disney/Miramax and shooting starts in April in Eastern Europe. Date of book awards is 15th March at the Dining Hall in Trinity College.

And other authors in the running include Patrick McCabe, Maeve Binchy, Cecelia Ahern, Paul McGrath and Paul Howard.