Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

The first time I read about the Holocaust was in Erich Segal's 'Doctors'. For many other reasons I re-read the book several times but was shaken and intrigued by the causes and consequences of the Holocaust. I then watched the brilliant 'Schindler's List' which led me to read 'Schindler's Ark', the book the movie was based on. The book and the movie are epics and have left a lasting impression on me. Though based on the same theme, I didn't expect John Boyne's 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas' to make such an impact. More so because of its length - 215 pages. How wrong I was.
The book talks about nine year old Bruno's amazing and rare friendship with Shmuel, the boy in the striped pyjamas living across the fence behind his new home. The story of the Holocaust is told through the eyes of Bruno, who cannot comprehend why he is not allowed to play with the hordes of children living on the other side of the sky-high fence. Through the events he witnesses, the horrors of the Holocaust are subtly but expertly explained by the author. The book is so short and crisp that any more details I spill can reveal the entire story. The writing is very simple. A thorough page turner, the book leaves you with a chilling effect once you finish reading. I read the entire book at one sitting late into the night and regret doing that because it left me sleepless. I know that the feeling will linger many more days. It is a poignant and memorable story, one that you would have never read before. Published by Black Swan and priced at Rs.360, it is available at Landmark and Crossword.
I highly recommend the book. It is worth every dime and your time. I am off to look for more by John Boyne.

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