Author Markus Zusak returns to the shire to launch his latest book, Bridge of Clay

Long-awaited return: Australian author Markus Zusak is coming back to the shire to launch his latest book, Bridge of Clay. Picture: John Veage
Long-awaited return: Australian author Markus Zusak is coming back to the shire to launch his latest book, Bridge of Clay. Picture: John Veage

Former Sutherland Shire resident turned international best-selling author Markus Zusak is making his long-awaited return with a profoundly heartfelt novel.

A boy in search of greatness as a cure for a painful past blends with a family held together by intertwined stories, and forms the backbone of Bridge of Clay.

Zusak has written five books including the global hit The Book Thief, which spent more than a decade on the New York Times bestseller list.

He has also held the number one position at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Zusak grew up at Engadine and lived at Gymea before relocating to the eastern suburbs in 2009. But the shire is never far from his thoughts.

“It was hard to leave,” he said. “I miss the open spaces and being near bushland. It was a great place to work.”

The idea for his latest plot came about when Zusak was 19 years of age. 

“But I had no idea how to write,” he said. “So I left it for a long time.”

His main character, Clay, is in the midst of a family tragedy – their mother is dead, their father has fled. So Clay builds a bridge.

The father-of-two bases many of his characters on himself. The bridge is a symbolic motif of union.

“You always find something of yourself in a character,” Zusak said. “Clay wants to make this one great beautiful thing and in doing so, brings his family back together.

“And I love all kinds of bridges. Who doesn’t love the Tom Ugly’s Bridge? It’s like the first marker’s post of home and although it’s the mid-point between St George and the shire, it’s more grouped together than we think.”

At 7pm on November 22, Zusak will be signing copies of Bridge of Clay at The Best Little Bookshop, Cronulla, as part of his national book tour.

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