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Looking at the Dark Sun: Aspects of Death, War and the Power of Stories in Markus Zusak’s and Terry Pratchett’s Novels

Dewald Mauritz Steyn


In this article, the author argues that Markus Zusak and Terry Pratchett make use of metafictional strategies as well as their respective anthropomorphic figures of Death to allow readers, particularly young ones, to confront difficult topics, providing them with a glimpse of truth as far as their own mortality is concerned. In Zusak’s The Book Thief (2005) and Pratchett’s The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (2001), death, war and the nature of evil are considered through a fictional lens, allowing a certain amount of distancing between the young reader and these painful realities. Without naively underplaying the actuality of death, Zusak and Pratchett show how stories can ameliorate the traumatic and anxiety-inducing aspects of such events. Zusak challenges people’s notions of what young adult literature can portray, while Pratchett focuses on what it means not only to be a human being, but an ethical sentient being.


Markus Zusak; The Book Thief; Terry Pratchett; The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents; death; anthropomorphism; metafiction

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