MARKUS ZUSAK: BRIDGE OF CLAY | 2 MAY
BY Lungol Wekina
Markus Zusak’s Bridge of Clay is his return to the hearts and minds of his readers after a thirteen year hiatus following the iconic success of his last novel, The Book Thief. His latest work takes us to the streets of Zusak’s native Sydney, and walks us through the lives of the five Dunbar boys. For the Sydney Writers Festival, Zusak joins Nicole Abadee for a lengthy discussion behind the scenes of constructing his Bridge of Clay.
As a huge fan of Zusak’s work, it was a true honour to watch him speak about what it took to write this book. He was honest about how hard it was to write at times, and he spoke openly about the challenges he faced in creating a world he felt proud enough of to share with the public. Zusak took us through the characters that made it in and out and back into the story, and the importance of minute details often missed by many. He outlined the different narrators he wrote through and why their perspectives were unique before finally deciding on Matthew.
I was almost surprised by Zusak’s candour and authenticity. But if you have had the chance to read his work, you would understand why I wasn’t. It was almost surreal to encounter the verisimilitude I was so familiar with between his pages before me on a Carriageworks stage. If there was anything to take away from his panel, it is that this novel truly was a labour of love. Zusak said that it was hard work to get this novel finished. Sometimes you can tell, he admits, but that’s the beauty of it. The struggle in those words belong to both Zusak and Clay - two people doing their best to create something magnificent.
As the lights come on and the event comes to a close, Zusak leaves us with a piece of advice:
“Write something that means everything to you.”