Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:
From the author of the no.1 New York Times bestselling novel The Book Thief."An amazing talent in Australian literature" Sunday Telegraph The Dunbar boys bring each other up in a house run by their own rules. A family of ramshackle tragedy - their mother is dead, their father has fled - they love and fight, and learn to reckon with the adult world. It is Clay, the quiet one, who will build a bridge; for his family, for his past, for his sins. He builds a bridge to transcend humanness. To survive.A miracle and nothing less.WINNER INDIE BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION 2019 SHORTLISTED FOR THE ABIA BOOK OF THE YEAR 2019LONGLISTED FOR THE DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD 2020 PRAISE FOR BRIDGE OF CLAY"I am pleased to recommend...Markus Zusak's extraordinary novel Bridge of Clay, which I suspect I'll reread many times. It's a sprawling, challenging, and endlessly rewarding book. But it also has the raw and real and unironized emotion that courses through all of Zusak's books. I'm in awe of him." John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska "Exquisitely written multigenerational family saga...With heft and historical scope, Zusak creates a sensitively rendered tale of loss, grief, and guilt's manifestations." Publishers Weekly"An evocative, compassionate and exquisitely composed coming-of-age story about family, love, tragedy and forgiveness. Zusak's prose is distinct: astute, witty, exquisitely rhythmic, and utterly engrossing." Australian Books+Publishing Magazine "Zusak is a writer of extraordinary empathy and he excels in his understanding of adolescent boys...in his portrayal of the gently traumatised Clay he has created a memorable character to savour... in Bridge of Clay, as earlier in The Book Thief, Zusak has succeeded in creating a story so vibrant and so real that the reader feels enveloped by it." The Australian"This vast novel is a feast of language and irony. It is such a compassionate book that it is hard not to fall a bit in love with it yourself. Bridge of Clay shares with Zusak's The Book Thief an underlying sense of the possibility of joy and human dignity even in dehumanising situations." Sydney Morning Herald"A complex, big-hearted, multi-generational Australian epic, highly evocative and rich in idiom that sprawls across 580 pages, much in the manner of Colleen McCullough, or Tim Winton's Cloudstreet." Good Weekend Magazine"In 2005, the Australian writer dazzled readers and secured a perch on bestseller lists with The Book Thief ...this book too is a stunner. Devastating, demanding and deeply moving, Bridge of Clay unspools like a kind of magic act in reverse, with feats of narrative legerdemain concealed by misdirection that all make sense only when the elements of the trick are finally laid out. In words that seem to ache with emotion, or perhaps, more aptly, with the suppression of it, Mr. Zusak moves us in and out of time. Grief and sacrifice lie at the heart of things, and we can feel it through Mr. Zusak's writing even before we understand the story's real contours." Wall Street Journal"What truly stands out about Bridge of Clay is the intensity of the prose - the potency of the heartbreak. The depth of grief and loss is so palpable you can all but feel the blood, sweat, and tears that went into crafting the story." Entertainment Weekly"As with The Book Thief, much of the appeal of the novel lies in Zusak's heartfelt love for his characters and for language. The book sings in short musical sentences like poetry, and words stop you in your tracks." Herald Sun
Upon their father's return, the five Dunbar boys, who have raised themselves since their mother's death, begin to learn family secrets, including that of fourth brother Clay, who will build a bridge for complex reasons, including his own redemption. Let me tell you about our brother. The fourth Dunbar boy named Clay. Everything happened to him. We were all of us changed through him. The Dunbar boys bring each other up in a house run by their own rules. A family of ramshackle tragedy - their mother is dead, their father has fled - they love and fight, and learn to reckon with the adult world. It is Clay, the quiet one, who will build a bridge; for his family, for his past, for his sins. He builds a bridge to transcend humanness. To survive. A miracle and nothing less. Markus Zusak makes his long-awaited return with a profoundly heartfelt and inventive novel about a family held together by stories, and a young life caught in the current: a boy in search of greatness, as a cure for a painful past. Yes, always for us there was a brother, and he was the one - the one of us amongst five of us - who took all of it on his shoulder.
Excerpt provided by Syndetics
<anon I1="BLANK" I2="BLANK">portrait of a killer as a middle--aged man If before the beginning (in the writing, at least) was a typewriter, a dog, and a snake, the beginning itself---eleven years previously---was a murderer, a mule, and Clay. Even in beginnings, though, someone needs to go first, and on that day it could only be the Murderer. After all, he was the one who got everything moving forward, and all of us looking back. He did it by arriving. He arrived at six o'clock. As it was, it was perfectly fitting, too, another blistering February evening; the day had cooked the concrete, the sun still high, and aching. It was heat to be held and depended on, or, really, that had hold of him. In the history of all murderers everywhere, this was surely the most pathetic: At five--foot--ten, he was average height. At seventy--five kilos, a normal weight. But make no mistake---he was a wasteland in a suit; he was bent--postured, he was broken. He leaned at the air as if waiting for it to finish him off, only it wouldn't, not today, for this, fairly suddenly, didn't feel like a time for murderers to be getting favors. No, today he could sense it. He could smell it. He was immortal. Which pretty much summed things up. Trust the Murderer to be unkillable at the one moment he was better off dead. * * * For the longest time, then, ten minutes at least, he stood at the mouth of Archer Street, relieved to have finally made it, terrified to be there. The street didn't seem much to care; its breeze was close but casual, its smoky scent was touchable. Cars were stubbed out rather than parked, and the power lines drooped from the weight of mute, hot and bothered pigeons. Around it, a city climbed and called: Welcome back, Murderer. The voice so warm, beside him. You're in a bit of strife here, I'd say. . . . In fact, a bit of strife doesn't even come close---you're in desperate trouble. And he knew it. And soon the heat came nearer. Archer Street began rising to the task now, almost rubbing its hands together, and the Murderer fairly caught alight. He could feel it escalating, somewhere inside his jacket, and with it came the questions: Could he walk on and finish the beginning? Could he really see it through? For a last moment he took the luxury---the thrill of stillness---then swallowed, massaged his crown of thorny hair, and with grim decision, made his way up to number eighteen. A man in a burning suit. Of course, he was walking that day at five brothers. Us Dunbar boys. From oldest to youngest: Me, Rory, Henry, Clayton, Thomas. We would never be the same. To be fair, though, neither would he---and to give you at least a small taste of what the Murderer was entering into, I should tell you what we were like: Many considered us tearaways. Barbarians. Mostly they were right: Our mother was dead. Our father had fled. We swore like bastards, fought like contenders, and punished each other at pool, at table tennis (always on third-- or fourth--hand tables, and often set up on the lumpy grass of the backyard), at Monopoly, darts, football, cards, at everything we could get our hands on. We had a piano no one played. Our TV was serving a life sentence. The couch was in for twenty. Sometimes when our phone rang, one of us would walk out, jog along the porch and go next door; it was just old Mrs. Chilman---she'd bought a new bottle of tomato sauce and couldn't get the wretched thing open. Then, whoever it was would come back in and let the front door slam, and life went on again. Yes, for the five of us, life always went on: It was something we beat into and out of each other, especially when things went completely right, or completely wrong. That was when we'd get out onto Archer Street in evening--afternoon. We'd walk at the city. The towers, the streets. The worried--looking trees. We'd take in the loudmouthed conversations hurled from pubs, houses, and unit blocks, so certain this was our place. We half expected to collect it all up and carry it home, tucked under our arms. It didn't matter that we'd wake up the next day to find it gone again, on the loose, all buildings and bright light. Oh---and one more thing. Possibly most important. In amongst a small roster of dysfunctional pets, we were the only people we knew of, in the end, to be in possession of a mule. And what a mule he was. The animal in question was named Achilles, and there was a backstory longer than a country mile as to how he ended up in our suburban backyard in one of the racing quarters of the city. On one hand it involved the abandoned stables and practice track behind our house, an outdated council bylaw, and a sad old fat man with bad spelling. On the other it was our dead mother, our fled father, and the youngest, Tommy Dunbar. At the time, not everyone in the house was even consulted; the mule's arrival was controversial. After at least one heated argument, with Rory--- ("Oi, Tommy, what's goin' on 'ere?" "What?" "What--a--y' mean what, are you shitting me? There's a donkey in the backyard!" "He's not a donkey, he's a mule." "What's the difference?" "A donkey's a donkey, a mule's a cross between---" "I don't care if it's a quarter horse crossed with a Shetland bloody pony! What's it doin' under the clothesline?" "He's eating the grass." "I can see that!") ---we somehow managed to keep him. Or more to the point, the mule stayed. As was the case with the majority of Tommy's pets, too, there were a few problems when it came to Achilles. Most notably, the mule had ambitions; with the rear fly screen dead and gone, he was known to walk into the house when the back door was ajar, let alone left fully open. It happened at least once a week, and at least once a week I blew a gasket. It sounded something like this: "Je--sus Christ !" As a blasphemer I was pretty rampant in those days, well known for splitting the Jesus and emphasizing the Christ. "If I've told you bastards once, I've told you a hun dred Goddamn times! Shut the back door!" And so on. Which brings us once more to the Murderer, and how could he have possibly known? Excerpted from Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.</anon>
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
In this rollicking new novel by Zusak (The Book Thief), we meet the Dunbar boys: narrator Matthew; wild Rory; bridge builder Clay; Henry, the entrepreneur; and Tommy, the animal lover. The Dunbars' interactions bring to mind cartoons in which characters are locked together with fists flying and pain inflicted, and the narrative takes on big themes such as love, death, sin, abandonment, and redemption. After having left the boys on their own, their father, Michael, returns to ask for their help in building a bridge across a river. Only Clay rises to the challenge. Each chapter stands on its own, focusing on different characters, including Michael, from a small Australian town; the boys' mother, Penny, from Eastern Europe; and Carey Novac, an aspiring jockey and Clay's love interest. Invoking the Iliad and the Odyssey, the story creates its own larger-than-life mythologies. VERDICT Though the movement from one chapter to the next can be confusing-the novel would have benefited from more editing and tightening-Zusak just loves his characters (including the animals), and the reader will, too. Marketed for a YA audience in the United States but best suited to strong YA readers and adults.-Jacqueline Snider, Toronto © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 UP-Narrated by the oldest of the five Dunbar boys, Matthew, Zusak's latest explores the struggles of the family in both the present and the past. The boys are living together when their father, Michael, comes by seeking help in building a bridge. Michael had abandoned them shortly after their mother, Penelope, died of cancer a few years prior. Clay, the second youngest of the brood, decides to go help their father with this project even though he knows this will bring animosity from his eldest brother. Interwoven are the stories of Penelope and Michael's relationship, the boys' schooling, and some romance mixed with tragedy. Zusak reads, bringing the characters to life. VERDICT The story of healing "bridges" is engaging, but the multiple storylines and jumps in time can get overwhelming.-Megan Huenemann, Norris High School, Firth, NE © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Here are the five Dunbar brothers: reliable Matthew, the oldest and the eloquent narrator of this extraordinary book; incorrigible Rory; Puck, with a pair of fists; Henry, who with a talent for making money knows the odds; Clay, the fourth son and protagonist, is the best of us, according to Matthew; and youngest Tommy, the animal collector. Their mother is dead, and their father has fled, until, one day, he returns to ask for help building a bridge. Only Clay agrees to help, and their bridge quickly assumes symbolic value. Zusak (The Book Thief, 2006) offers up a narrative that is really two stories: one of the present, the story of the bridge and of Clay's love for the girl across the street; and the second of the past, occupied by the boys' childhood and stories that Clay loves The Iliad, The Odyssey. The tone is sometimes somber and always ominous, leaving readers anxious about the fates of these characters whom they have grown to love. Zusak pushes the parameters of YA in this gorgeously written novel: a character has scrap-metal eyes; rain is like a ghost you could walk through. In the end, it always comes back to Clay, that lovely boy, as a neighbor calls him. A lovely boy and an unforgettably lovely book to match. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A national author tour, insane marketing, and an initial 500,000 print run await Zusak's first novel since his critically acclaimed, best-selling The Book Thief. Expect another sensation.--Michael Cart Copyright 2018 Booklist
Horn Book Review
Twelve years after the American publication of The Book Thief (rev. 3/06), Zusak returns with an epic saga of five rambunctious Australian brothers, their long-suffering parents, and the bonds of love that tie them together. Matthew Dunbar, the eldest brother, narrates this story in an elliptical, digressive, somewhat frustratingly enigmatic style that ranges among the past, present, and future of all characters with an inexplicably high degree of omnis-cience. In the beginning there was one murderer, one mule and one boy, but this isnt the beginning, its before it, its me, and Im Matthew, and here I am, in the kitchen, in the nightthe old river mouth of lightand Im punching and punching away. The prose ebbs and flows, cascading through long and short sentences, fragments, clipped paragraphs, and staccato rhythms. The distinctly Australian landscape is fully realized, and the supporting characters (a very large number of them) are convincing in their brief cameos, but like the impressionistic vignettes that make up the plot, they are subsumed by the heftier elements. These include themes of love, forgiveness, redemptionand journeys; striking imagery and symbolism, especially in relation to the titular bridge; and abundant literary allusions, particularly to The Odyssey and The Iliad. But while Zusak is a talented writer, the self-indulgent and elegiac prose asphyxiates any semblance of good storytelling, making this book too demanding for most readers, regardless of age. jonathan hunt (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
Years after the death of their mother, the fourth son in an Australian family of five boys reconnects with his estranged father.Matthew Dunbar dug up the old TW, the typewriter his father buried (along with a dog and a snake) in the backyard of his childhood home. He searched for it in order to tell the story of the family's past, a story about his mother, who escaped from Eastern Europe before the fall of the Berlin Wall; about his father, who abandoned them all after their mother's death; about his brother Clay, who built a bridge to reunite their family; and about a mule named Achilles. Zusak (The Book Thief, 2006, etc.) weaves a complex narrative winding through flashbacks. His prose is thick with metaphor and heavy with allusions to Homer's epics. The story romanticizes Matthew and his brothers' often violent and sometimes homophobic expressions of their cisgender, heterosexual masculinity with reflections unsettlingly reminiscent of a "boys will be boys" attitude. Women in the book primarily play the roles of love interests, mothers, or (in the case of their neighbor) someone to marvel at the Dunbar boys and give them jars to open. The characters are all presumably white.Much like building a bridge stone by stone, this read requires painstaking effort and patience. (Fiction. 16-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.