April 30th: John Boyne

April 30th: John Boyne

English · 30 April 2021

Happy Birthday, John Boyne!

One of Ireland’s most successful contemporary authors turns 50!

John Boyne is a brilliant writer who never judges what is wrong or right. But what he does is to invite readers to follow his characters through their everyday lives – wherever, whenever the setting is – and let the reader judge themselves. When the characters get confronted with unbelievable, terrible occasions, John Boyne tells in an unexcited and sensitive manner what is going on. He avoids being loud and flashy, avoids pointing at mistakes and faults his protagonists might do. And because the texts’ moods are very calm, the reader is shaken up and shocked when he or she reveals the dark side of the presumed banalities John Boyne presents in his stories.

Surely, most readers will connect John Boyne to “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”, which explores nationalism and the cruelty of concentration camps through children’s eyes. Another novel named “Stay Where You Are and Then Leave” tells the story of Alfie, whose father serves in World War I and writes letters to his son. Suddenly, the letters stop, and Alfie tries to find out where his father is. It is a novel about war and traumas, the shellshock, and the deep love between father and son. Finally, the book was rightly awarded the Gustav-Heinemann-Friedenspreis in 2015.

But John Boyne is not tired of telling new stories about other subjects, apart from war. His latest novel, “My Brother’s Name is Jessica” for young readers, was published in 2019 and tells how protagonist Sam Waver experiences the transitioning of his older brother into a woman.

Happy Birthday, John Boyne! We are looking forward to more brilliantly told stories, sharply analysed social criticism and brave protagonists.


If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”― Oscar Wilde

What do Lit4School and St. Patrick’s Day have in common? Well, both celebrate the rich cultural heritage of classic and contemporary Irish literature. Named after St. Patrick, who probably was not the first but the most popular Christian missionary, bishop and patron of Ireland during the fifth century. The feast day was found in the 17th century and remains a cultural and religious celebration in the Republic of Ireland e.g. in Dublin, Northern Ireland and the Irish diaspora until the present day. On March 17th, the death day of St. Patrick, public parades, festivals, traditional Irish music sessions (céilí) and church services are held. The green shamrock represents St. Patrick and the Christian holy trinity while the four-leaf clover traditionally symbolises luck. However, the festivities were also criticised for supporting Irish stereotypesexcluding LGBT groups and becoming over commercialised in recent years. 

On Lit4School, we do feature quite a variety of Irish authors – from more classical ones such as Bram Stoker, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde and Seamus Heany  to more recent examples such as Anne DevlinJohn BoyneSarah Crossan… If you are looking for Irish Poetry, this beautifully illustrated collection of poetry for children and young adults is worth taking a look into. Do you like to learn more about Irish children’s literature? Well, we invite you to take a look at CBI – Children’s Books Ireland. CBI is the national arts and charity organisation of Ireland’s children’s literature and therefore offers great connections to Irish writers, illustrators and publishers. Check CBI’s literature recommendations for poetry, sport, emotional well-being and many more on their reading lists. Lastly, we would like to recommend a very remarkable Irish, who did the beautiful illustrations for a recent copy of “A Christmas Carol”. P.J. Lynch provides his readers with detailed pictures that convey a realistic view and an emotional message simultaneously. His pictures invite young and advanced readers equally to discover details and speak about the story, which contributes to the promotion of reading, especially for children. Check P.J. Lynch’s website if you want to learn more about him, his works and projects.

May you have all the happiness and luck that life can hold and at the end of your rainbows may you find your pot of gold or a beautiful piece of Irish literature.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day – Top o’ the mornin’ to ya all!

Melanie & Simon