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BOOKSHELF: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

It is a story of friendship that knows no boundaries, barbed wire or fences.

india Updated: Mar 04, 2006 12:34 IST

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
John Boyne
Price — Rs 564
Publication — Random House

Based on the life of a nine-year-old German boy called Bruno and set in the time of the Second World War, this book is a very serious attempt at deconstructing the Holocaust. Seen through the innocent eyes of a nine-year-old, the memories of World War II are revived afresh.

Boyne, with his artistic touch and command over the language, uses simple phrases and narrative to bring out the ugliest side of the War. Unlike most other books written on the War, this one is special because it is not just a story of a young boy trying to come to terms with change. It is a story of friendship that knows no boundaries, barbed wire or fences.

It is also the story of a Jewish boy who eventually becomes Bruno’s best friend. Boyne is able to show both sides of the coin and as the story moves on, it is evident that unlike the ‘adults’ it is children who can actually put war into perspective.

More importantly, even though the story ends on a sad note, it shows us that the War was not just about differences and destruction but also about love and friendship as symbolised by Bruno and his Jewish friend.

On a more sombre note it also brings out the true meaning of borders and boundaries and puts the notion of racial superiority into perspective. Bruno's death symbolises the underlying irony of war in general that nothing can be as unjustified as human loss.

The helplessness of Bruno’s father, a German commander, in the end, is also the story of so many Jewish fathers who lost their children in the War. There is no victory in war and that remains the essence of Boyne’s book. A must read for all, this is perhaps one of the most moving books I have read in the recent past.

First Published: Mar 04, 2006 12:34 IST