Markus Zusak wasn't expecting an enormous response when he published The Book Thief.
"I thought no one would ever read this book, I thought it would be my least successful book. I imagine someone reading it and then trying to convince one of their friends to read it and their friend says, 'Well what's it about?' And what do you say? You've got to say, 'Well, it's set in Nazi Germany, it's narrated by Death, nearly everyone dies, and it's 580 pages long, you'll love it.'"
But despite, or because, of those caveats, people did love the book. It went on to spend 230 weeks on the bestseller's list, reaching people with its tender portrayal of Liesel Meminger, a foster child growing up under Hitler's regime.
Now, ten years later, he's coming to Iowa as part of a tenth anniversary tour, celebrating a book that, though originally meant for teenagers, ended up touching the hearts of those of all ages.
"It is actually teenagers usually, their letters stand out. There's still a real innocence to those letters, and they're the ones I appreciate the most. Especially because the book, in the end, I sort of realized wasn't necessarily for teenagers. It was published as a book for adults in most countries. It's often been teenagers that have stood out to me because when they love something they really, really love it."
In this Talk of Iowa interview, host Charity Nebbe talks with Zusak about the origins of the book, the place it has in so many people's hearts, and what's next for the author.
Markus Zusak will be at the Hotel at Kirkwood Center in Cedar Rapids this Sunday, March 13th, for a live author event, Doors open at 4 PM. Tickets are free but Linn Area Reads is asking people to register before hand here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/linn-area-reads-markus-zusak-tickets-21114501041.