Morris Gleitzman Interview

Australian children's and Young Adult author, Morris Gleitzman, is interviewed in Meanjin by Sophie Cunningham.  Gleitzman is the author of such novels as Wicked!, Bumface, Toad Rage, and Give Peas a Chance. The interview mainly concerns his latest book, Then.

SC: The first novel, Once has got more jokes and it's slightly more light-hearted--as much as the subject matter allows. But Then is very gothic and dark.

MG: I'd hesitate to say 'gothic' because that to me is a kind of cultural literary style. And there is humour in Then because Felix is still optimistic despite the grim circumstances. I'm trying to re-create some of the darker moments of our species' behaviour in a way that will have meaning for younger readers. I knew when I decided to write a book for my age group of readers--which is pretty much eight and up--set against the Holocaust, many or most of my readers wouldn't be familiar with the circumstances of World War Two or the Holocaust.

SC: Aren't these subjects taught?

MG: They're taught at some schools but there's a lot of freedom at primary schools for teachers to devise their own areas of curriculum. So there are some primary schools where they're doing the Holocaust, perhaps as a part of related studies or maybe as part of World War Two. But there are many students who don't touch on all this until two or three years into high school. So I couldn't count on all of my readers understanding the historical context and the social context. I didn't want to make these books a history lesson in terms of the full sweep of the information of the time, but I needed to have enough of the historical context so it would make sense to readers fresh to the whole thing. That is why I decided to structure the first book as a journey of discovery for Felix. I wanted to do it that way for some other reasons as well but I realised it would allow my younger readers to go on that journey of discovery with him and gradually encounter some of the realities of that time and that place. 

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on June 1, 2009 10:32 AM.

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