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Markus Zusak

Author of The Book Thief

14+ Works 55,178 Members 2,562 Reviews 200 Favorited

About the Author

Markus Zusak was born in Sydney, Australia on June 23, 1975. He began writing at the age of 16, and seven years later his first book, The Underdog, was published. He is best known for his young adult novels The Book Thief and I Am the Messenger, both of which are Michael L. Printz Honor books. The show more Book Thief was adapted into a movie. His next book, Bridge of Clay was published October 2018. It won 2019 Indie Book Awards for Debut Fiction and Book of the Year. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Photo by Bronnwyn Rennix


Works by Markus Zusak

Associated Works

The Book Thief [2013 film] (2013) — Original story — 366 copies
The Book That Made Me (2016) — Contributor — 73 copies


audiobook (135) Australia (302) Australian (206) book club (179) books (514) books about books (239) coming of age (368) death (908) ebook (168) family (263) favorite (122) favorites (316) fiction (3,476) friendship (367) Germany (1,383) historical (371) historical fiction (1,965) history (254) Holocaust (1,634) Jews (450) Kindle (163) literature (157) love (124) mystery (267) Nazi (183) Nazi Germany (448) Nazis (253) novel (373) own (203) Printz Honor (130) read (476) reading (177) teen (158) to-read (2,835) unread (141) war (439) WWII (2,532) YA (1,007) young adult (1,523) young adult fiction (255)

Common Knowledge

Legal name
Zusak, Markus Frank
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Places of residence
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Engadine High School
University of New South Wales (BA) (English and History)
University of New South Wales (DiplEd)
high school English teacher
Awards and honors
Margaret A. Edwards Award (2014)
NSW Premier's Literary Award (Ethel Turner Prize) (2003)
Kathleen Mitchell Award 2006 (literature) (2006)
National Jewish Book Award (Children's and Young Adult Literature) (2006)
Ena Noel Award – the IBBY Australia Ena Noël Encouragement Award for Children's Literature (2008)
New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature (2003) (show all 13)
Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award (2003)
Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year-Children (2005)
Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book (2006)
Printz Award Honor Book (2006)
Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis [translate: German Youth Literature Prize] (2007)
Honour Book, CBCA Children's Book of the Year Award: Older Readers (2002)
Honour Book, CBCA Children's Book of the Year Award: Older Readers (2001)
Short biography
According to his publisher, Australian author Markus Zusak grew up hearing stories about Nazi Germany, about the bombing of Munich and about Jews being marched through his mother’s small, German town. He always knew it was a story he wanted to tell.
By the age of 30, Zusak had already asserted himself as one of today’s most innovative and poetic novelists. With the publication of The Book Thief, he was dubbed a ‘literary phenomenon’ by Australian and U.S. critics.

Markus Zusak (born 23 June 1975) is an Australian writer of German origin. He is best known for The Book Thief and The Messenger (US title: I Am the Messenger), two novels which became international bestsellers. He won the Margaret A. Edwards Award in 2014.

Zusak was born in Sydney, Australia. His mother Lisa is originally from Germany and his father Helmut is from Austria. They emigrated to Australia in the late 1950s. Markus is the youngest of four children and has two sisters and one brother. He attended Engadine High School and briefly returned there to teach English while writing. He studied English and history at the University of New South Wales, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma of Education.

Zusak is the author of six books. His first three books, The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, and When Dogs Cry, released between 1999 and 2001, were all published internationally. The Messenger, published in 2002, won the 2003 CBC Book of the Year Award (Older Readers) and the 2003 NSW Premier's Literary Award (Ethel Turner Prize) in Australia and was a runner-up for the Printz Award in America.

The Book Thief was published in 2005 and has since been translated into more than 40 languages. The Book Thief was adapted as a film of the same name in 2013. In 2014, Zusak delivered a Ted Talk, called 'The Failurist' at the Sydney Opera House. It focused on his drafting process and journey to success through writing The Book Thief.

The Messenger (I Am the Messenger in the United States) was published in 2002 and was one of Zusak's first novels. This novel has won awards such as the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards: Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature.

In March 2016 Zusak talked about his then unfinished novel Bridge of Clay. He stated that the book was 90% finished but that, "... I’m a completely different person than the person who wrote The Book Thief. And this is also the scary thing—I’m a different person to the one who started Bridge of Clay eight, nine years ago ... I’ve got to get it done this year, or else I’ll probably finally have to set it aside."



Shared Read: The Book Thief in The 12 in 12 Category Challenge (March 2012)
"The Book Thief" Spoiler-Free Discussion in Hogwarts Express (April 2010)
The Book Thief (with spoileers) in Hogwarts Express (May 2009)


A story set in Nazi Germany from 1939 - 1943 and narrated by death is never going to be a happy one.
“It’s a small story about a girl, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter and quite a lot of thievery.”
The Book Thief is Liesel Memiger’s story written in the graffitied cellar of her foster parent’s house on Himmel Street, a place called heaven. The ending is inevitable from the beginning intensifying the pressure cooker tension as events unfold, the final chapters being beyond heart breaking.
Death, books and words. Death is everywhere, releasing the souls of men, women and children, the Allies, the Nazis and the persecuted. Books come in different guises, playing major roles and changing lives - The Gravedigger’s Handbook lifted from the snow, Mein Kampf as a travelling companion and paper source, Max Vandenburg’s Word Shaker that delivers the knock-out blow. Words, painted and repeated on a dank basement wall. Saukerl, Saumensch and Arschloch as both endearment and slur. Words to brainwash a nation, words to describe the weather, words to press into paper.
Death’s narrative is interrupted by asides, facts, definitions, thoughts and translations printed in bold, by hand-sketched etchings and by a reproduction of The Word Shaker. Once I had got used to this quirky format I was hanging on every word. Poignant, moving, brutal, heartbreaking with wooden spoons, lemon-haired Rudy and acts of kindness to make you smile sometimes through tears, The Book Thief is one helluva read.
… (more)
geraldine_croft | 2,130 other reviews | Jun 4, 2024 |
A novel look at Nazi Germany as it impacted on the life of a German girl and her foster family and small town community. Presented through the eyes of Death as he collected the dead from the various traumatic events happening in German, Poland ad Russia.
ElizabethCromb | 2,130 other reviews | Jun 3, 2024 |
Shayla: it was a pretty good book, I read it for school and would recommend if you're looking for a more serious book to read.
Shayla_Hi | 2,130 other reviews | Jun 3, 2024 |
Beautiful, powerful and heartbreaking. Young adult historical fiction with an element of magical realism. Brilliant and unique.
Zoes_Human | 2,130 other reviews | May 25, 2024 |


Europe (1)


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