Saturday, 22 October 2011

THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS . . John Byne

This 2006 novel, THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS, was made into an award-winning Miramax film. The novel itself won 2 Irish Book Awards,the Bisto Book of the Yea. It spent more than 80 weeks at no.1 in Ireland, topped the New York Times Bestseller List,and was the bestselling book in Spain in both 2007 and 2008.Worldwide, it has sold more than 5 million copies.(From John Boyne's official biography).
It is a short book of 216 pages , in bold print .I read it in about five hours in three sittings .It is an outstanding novel  not only on  the Holocaust but also on childhood , innocence , ignorance,friendship and loneliness.It is unforgettable .Its impact remains on you long after you have finished reading it .
Bruno is the nine year old hero of this novel.His father works for the Fury(Hitler), and gets transferred from Berlin to Out-With(Auschwitz).Bruno , his 12 years old sister Gretel  and his parents move over to the new place .Bruno feels lonely , in the absence of friends , and the strange sight of  people wearing striped pyjamas  on the other side of fence.(On the other side is a concentration camp).
Then one day , on his long solitary walks , he meets Shmuel , a boy from the other side of  the  fence (He is a Jew).Without knowing each others' background , they become friends .They meet and play regularly , but without crossing the fence often .They do little things , talk about each other 's place of living  and other child like things.Bruno keeps this friendship a secret , and tells a lie when others ask him about it .
 After about a year , Bruno's mother gets her way and persuades his father to send the family back to Berlin , while his father continues at Out-With.A day before leaving , Bruno crosses the fence to explore the other side, and never returns . . . . The end is so sudden an tragic that it haunts the reader for ever .
The book ends with these lines:"And that's the end of the story about Bruno and his family.Of course, all this happened a long time ago and nothing like that could ever happen again . . . . . .Not in this day and age."
  x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x xx x x xx x x x x xx x x x xx x x x x x x xx x x x x x x x 


The book brings out the horrors of atrocities in concentration camps , without being explicit .Its abrupt and impactful end makes you think and ask questions about the genocide that Hitler and his associates committed in the name of race.They did not spare innocent children .On the other hand , when , like children , you do not discriminate human beings on the grounds of race , caste , religion , gender , language or place of birth , you create , develop and maintain friendships for a long time .As Bruno says just before his death,"You are my best friend , Shmuel, my best friend for life."
It is a very powerful book , and I recommend you to invest your five hours into it and read it .