Saturday, January 21, 2006

Why Write a Book?

The UK The Times has an article about why did a 34-year old Irishman write a book about the Holocaust, a "children's" book incidentally.

His own answer?

I’ve been asked several times whether The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a suitable book for children to read and my answer is that while there will be some elements that they will not understand as much as others, I hope that they will be sufficiently moved by the narrative, while identifying with both Bruno and Shmuel (the young German and Jewish protagonists) that they will be left asking questions, wanting to know more, keeping the subject alive.

For me, a 34-year-old Irish writer, it seemed that the only respectful way to deal with such a subject was through innocence, using the point of view of a rather naive child who couldn’t possibly understand the horrors of what he was caught up in. After all, that naiveté is as close as someone of my generation can get to the dreadfulness of that time and place. Why am I here? Bruno wonders. What happens in this place? Why are there so many people on the other side of the fence? Simple questions, perhaps, but at a basic level, aren’t these the questions we still ask? A simple “Why?”

And perhaps that’s the job for any writer or artist, to keep looking for answers, to make sure those questions continue so that no one ever forgets why they needed to be raised in the first place.

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