Bridge of Clay is the long-awaited new release by Sydney author Markus Zusak. 13 years in the making, the novel follows the story of five brothers, their tumultuous relationship and their absent father.
Best known for 2005's The Book Thief, the success of that title has naturally put pressure on the author. "It played more of a part than I thought,” he says. Although, in other ways, it has been a blessing to Zusak. Previously, he says he "had written four books that meant something, but the fifth book meant everything." In other words, Zusak does not believe in half-measures, which explains the many discarded copies that have gone into writing Bridge of Clay.
"When I was a kid I lost a race that I was sure I’d won. After the race I complained to my dad who said he was sure I’d won too. But then he told me I just didn’t win by enough, you’ve got to win by enough that no-one can dispute it. Writing is kind of like that."
On writing Bridge of Clay he adds was like a "world championship of myself," and one which entirely immerses him. One of the things Zusak loves about writing fiction is even though you know it’s not real, "you believe it when you’re in it."
Asked if he had anything to say to any readers who might find his new book challenging he says, “I don’t make any apologies for anything in the book. Everything is exactly as I wanted it to be. It’s okay if you don’t read it. But if you hang in, you’ll be richly rewarded.” Bridge of Clay is written as if it were a combination of memories, exactly as it was intended. As Zusak says “books are one of the final frontiers – they ask patience of people.”