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City of Books

Nov 17, 2022

“I really don't like the fact that sometimes I'm referred to as kind of a controversial novelist because I don't feel that I am,” says John Boyne, whose novel The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas has sold 11 million copies and mounting, and has been reimagined as a film, play, ballet and opera.

The sequel – All The Broken Places – imagines life after the Holocaust for some of the characters in the 2006 novel, which saw life in a concentration camp through the eyes of two small boys. 

“I'm not controversial as a person,” he says. “I'm not a provocateur at all as a person. And I certainly don't mean to come across that way either in the books that I write or in my interviews.

“I'm not immune to the fact people have criticised The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas in more recent years – not for the first 14 or so years of its publication. And I'm not immune to the fact that there's a vocal amount of people who feel I should never be writing a book like All The Broken Places. But I also feel what can we do as writers but write the book that feels right to us at the time?"

He says The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas has become “almost a touchstone” for people who feel negativity towards him. But with any writing project, he feels the fear and does it anyway.

All The Broken Places is published by Penguin Random House. More here