Markus Zusak Facts 📝

Markus Zusak may be known as a former teacher who later wrote the best-selling book ‘The Book Thief’. But, he is so much more – here are 6 facts about him.

Markus Zusak

Australian Writer

Below are several facts about his life that show the impact he had on the world using his books. 

Markus Zusak Facts

Markus parents were not originally from Australia

Markus Zukas was born as Markus Frank Zusak in Sydney, Australia on June 23rd, 1975. He is the last of four children, two sisters, and one brother. His parents were not originally from Australia. They emigrated to Australia in late 1950. His father’s name is Helmut Zusak and he came from Austria while his mother’s name is Lisa Zusak and she came from Germany. This means that his parents were not originally from Australia but rather from Europe. This is also why they were able to share the stories of the second world war with their children. It was those stories that Markus got the inspiration for the novel, The Book Thief.

Markus Zusak wrote a famous Trilogy

Markus Zusak has written a total of six books among which is a trilogy. Between 1999 and 2001, Markus published three books – The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, and When Dogs Cry, which gained him international acclaim. These books were a trilogy, which means three literary works that are closely related. The three books follow the story of Cameron Wolfe, the youngest child of the Wolfe family. This has made Markus one of the renowned authors who wrote a trilogy.

Education and Career

He was educated at Engadine High School. He became an English teacher in that school while writing his novels. Zusak went to the University of New South Wales, Australia, to study English and History in pursuit of his degree. He earned a Diploma of Education and a Bachelor of Arts when he graduated. Markus Zusak gave a Ted Talk in 2014, with the topic ‘The Failurist’. The talk was delivered at the Sydney Opera House and it focused on his drafting process and journey to success through writing The Book Thief. He has written 6 novels so far and they include The Underdog (1999), Fighting Ruben Wolfe (2000), When Dogs Cry (2001), The Messenger (2002), The Book Thief (2005), and Bridge of Clay (2018).

Markus Won Numerous Awards

Markus Zusak’s novels received a lot of awards and honors, including the American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults for Fighting Ruben Wolfe, the Michael L. Printz Honor and the Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award in Australia, and the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction for When Dogs Cry. He was named a Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, and many more.

The awards and honors started when he was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature in 2001, for his book Fighting Ruben Wolfe. In that same year he was listed in the Honour Book, CBCA Children’s Book of the Year Award: Older Readers for that same book. From there, it has been from one award and recognition to another.

The True Inspiration for The Book Thief

It was the stories that Markus heard from emigrant parents (from Austria and Germany), that inspired him to write The Book Thief. One of such stories was when his mother told him about a boy who gave bread to a starving Jew being marched to a concentration camp. A Nazi soldier noticed this and punished both the boy and the Jew by whipping them. He recreated this scene in The Book Thief with Hans Hubermann as the boy who gave bread to a weak Jew marching to a concentration camp.

Markus Zusak has gotten into the bestseller list of many countries

Markus Zusak has received many awards and recognitions for his book but the most popular is The Book Thief which catapulted him into the bestseller list. Even though Markus Zusak was already popular through his other books, for example, the trilogy gave him many awards. You will find The Book Thief included in the bestseller list of books in many countries globally, such as in Australia, Ireland, Taiwan, Brazil, and America. In South Korea, Israel, Spain, and the United Kingdom, it was included in the top five-bestseller list.


Where is Markus Zusak now?

Markus Zusak was born and brought up in Sydney, Australia. He studied, worked, and wrote his novels in Australia. With his massive success, some people are wondering if he has left Australia for another country. Now, he still lives in Sydney with his wife and two children and continues to write fiction.

Does Markus Zusak speak German?

Markus Zusak was born in 1975 in Sydney, Australia. He is the youngest of four children of immigrant German and Austrian parents. Since his parents can speak German, it means they must have spoken it at home and taught their children how to speak it – he was raised speaking German and English.

When was Markus Zusak considered a success as a writer?

Most people feel that Markus Zusak became successful after he wrote The Book Thief. But that is not correct. He was already a successful author before the publication of The Book Thief, the novel that catapulted the Australian writer to international stardom, in 2005 with many awards and recognitions.

What type of books does Markus Zusak write?

The Australian writer, Markus Zusak writes books that focus on children and teenagers. The Underdog is Zusak’s first novel so he actually started his career writing about young adult fiction. Zusak’s first novel was published in 1999 and followed by two sequels, Fighting Ruben Wolfe (2001) and When Dogs Cry (2002).

Why did Markus Zusak write about WW2?

Zusak chose the subject matter of The Book Thief because of the stories his parents told him about growing up in Austria and Germany during World War II. Since his parents were European natives, they have witnessed firsthand what the Second World War did to a lot of people. It was a horrendous event yet it was their history to share with their family.

Ugo Juliet
About Ugo Juliet
Ugo Juliet is a passionate lover of books. For over 10 years, she has written books and articles for various organizations. She continues with her passion for literature as an expert analyst on Book Analysis.
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap