John Boyle: The boy in the stripped pajamas

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a 2006 novel from the point of view of a young boy, written by Irish novelist John Boyne. Unlike the months of planning Boyne devoted to his other books, he said that he wrote the entire first draft of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas in two and a half days, barely sleeping until he got to the end.[1] To date, the novel has sold more than 5 million copies around the world, and was published as The Boy in the Striped Pajamas in the United States to go along with the traditional American spelling of the word. In both 2007 and 2008 it was the best selling book of the year in Spain. It has also reached number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list, as well as in the UK, Ireland, Australia and many other countries.

21 responses

  1. First of all, let me congratulate Ramon for his great idea !
    To have a blog allows us to try to say what we think by writing, while we try to use our speech the last friday every month. One is more slow and detailed, while the other has to be fast. Quite complementary, I think.
    Second, let me say I dont like the plot of the book. 2nd WW left a lot of pain around Europe so the tale about the life of a son of an camp officer seems quite innapropiate to me.
    Again, thanks, Ramon !


  2. Thank you Sebastian,

    One important thing regarding the blog is that you should write your name on every comment if you are not registered (this time I have added your name at the end). If not, the comment appears as “anonymous”. I have also added the possibility to follow the comments via e-mail (see a small box in the blog).

    Now on the book:
    I understand what you think on the plot of the book, but I don’t think the same. I don’t think the author tries to make fun of the holocaust or diminishing it, it just tells a fictional story of how a nine year old boy would see it from inside. In fact, the house, the family, the maid and the boy really existed, of course not the plot of the two boys. All wars have generated a lot of pain (although WWII in a bigger scale), but there are lots of books and films with sad stories but also with funny ones (for example remember the series “Allo allo” on TV), I think this book is one more in the list.

    Going back to the plot, could the boy represent the german society that ignored (or had no other option than ignoring) what was really happening in the concentration camps? Could be the destiny of Bruno the destiny of this society at the end of the war? Some open questions for you!



    1. 2 more lines : if you are interested in “destiny” and related concepts, but from serious point of view, I’d sugest to spend some time on this book :


      Here, you have real people, real war, real life and death.

      Sebastian, too serious maybe.

  3. Hi, Ramon.

    Thanks for pointing me to sign the notes. I’ll try to remember it … when I finish writing it, not an easy task when you have other things in your mind, jejeje

    The e-mail subscription is realy interesting – otherwise I have to come here every day … to see nothing has been written… quite unpleasant.

    If you want / can improve a bit more this tool, I would suggest to provide some letter types to the writers – I want to add some text from wikipedia, and I would like to change it into italian type, to indicate it is not mine … Is it possible ?

    If the americans want to do fun out of WWII, no problem. If mr Spilberg wants to make you think one can save a soldier (saving private ryan) just because someone says so, it means their concept of what’s going on is as artificial as their culture. How many films have you seen on Vietnam’s war ? Dozens, of course, few of them quite funny, as Rambo’s, or MASH (sorry, Corea war involved here). But do you know how many americans died there ? 60 thousand. Do you know how many vietnameese died ? Almost 2 million. Not funny, in my opinion. You can be an american citizen and get some money from the Army just because you manipulated Agent Orange while loading the bombs, but nobody talks about the people receiving those bombs (or napalm) in their gardens. No money out of such a film.

    The truth is that the last time I went out of a cinema before the film end was at “Schindler’s list”, such an infantile drama as ET’s story.

    I dont say it could not be a good book, and even I read it has been a great success in sales, but will never be in my library, of course.


    PD.- the open question to me : I think your thoughts are in line with wikipedia line …


    However, Kathryn Hughes, whilst agreeing that about the implausibility of the plot, argues that “Bruno’s innocence comes to stand for the wilful refusal of all adult Germans to see what was going on under their noses”.

  4. Hi again Sebastian,

    At least it is good to have very different opinions, next meeting is promising!

    two things:

    1.- On the blog: no, on this free version is not possible to enrich the text in your comments 😦

    2.- Regarding the book “Life and faith”. Will you recommend it as a novel? I mean, is it easy reading ? (*cat)



  5. good work.I,would like to share whith all of you any comments about the book.but i have just started to read .please go on with the comments it helps me a lot.

  6. Hi Ramon, Sebastian,

    A really interesting virtual conversation 🙂 I read the book last year and, on the one hand, I have to say that I half believe in the boy’s innocence. I don’t think this character has a high credibility… is it possible to be so blinded when you are nine years old? But on the other hand, this book made me think how often people don’t want to see further on the comfort of their homes and self-protection instinct, so the reading was not a completely waste of time. I also enjoyed an “unexpected”, to me, end.

    I read in Wikipedia that the author, an Irish novelist, wrote the entire first draft of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas in two and a half days, barely sleeping until he got to the end. He must be so excited with the book! I will not judge him for writting about this topic. What would literature be if we couldn’t be free to write about anything? I will not buy the book nor read again it in the future, because I don’t think it deserves it. It was just a story, if I want to know about the history I will look for specialized non fiction books.

    Best regards!

  7. To Teresa : lets hope this book has lots of interesting english expressions we learn and enrich our vocabulary … jejeje
    Have you noticed the line “chalk up to experience” his mother says ?
    I find it quite interesting …

    To Ramon : I guess you got the point – the book is 864 pages wide (?) deep (?) long (?), so I must say “no”, it is not an “easy reading”. It is a “big” novel, in the style of “Peace and War”, a “classic” style novel. Lots of characters, 3 time lines, let me say a “baroque” plot about life, love and soul. If you like that kind of books, this one is in the top ten. If you prefer more fast or superficial books, then dont read it.
    Conclusion : I do recomend it, but it is not an easy reading.

    More tomorrow …


    1. On the “Life and Fate” book, wikipedia says: “It is written in the socialist realist style, which can make it seem odd in parts to western readers.”

      Wow! It is the first time I hear about the “socialist realist style” but I presume it would be a really hard novel for me to read… but I will put it on the to-do list anyway.



  8. Teresa : you can write about whatever you want.
    Another thing is it was the best selling book in Spain in 2008, which indicates what king of profile spanish readers have.

    Did you notice how “pajama” is written ? The first “a” surprised me a lot, to say the truth.

    And wikipedia surprises me again
    Pajamas are “worn chiefly for sleeping, but sometimes also for lounging”, where “lounge” is “sala de estar” …

    A funny sentence I heard yesterday on tv : in england some people they do have “excessive wind” …

    Do you know what it means ? The answer … tomorrow !

    Sebastian (I did not sign the previous note – sorry, Ramon, but I am finishing the writing, I am thinking on the next thing to do, not on signing the letter, jejeje

  9. Hello LitLovers,

    First I would like to thank Ramon his effort to make this fantastic blog. It would be great to keep in touch and to practice a little writing. So I suggest everyone to write something about every book we read. The discussions I have read are very interesting, and although some comments seem very emphatic, do not be afraid to express your opinions, or just a comment, any excuse to practice English. It is for that reason you participate in this club.

    I see there are mixed opinions about the book. Personally, when I read it two or three years ago, I felt uncomfortable because it trivializes the horror of a concentration camp and didn’t seem appropriate to me. I am also aware that it is a reading that many young people approached the subject of the extermination of the Jews. Surely many of your sons or nephews have read it, and as in my family, the book probably will have generated questions and comments.

    Besides literary quality criteria or personal taste, there are other elements to consider for choosing the club readings. First, because the objective of this club is to practice English from intermediate level and we consider easy reading books, especially in these early sessions. Secondly we propose different literary styles, genres, levels and themes that could be interesting for a wide range of readers. Our club have just started so I would ask some sensitivity. We do not want anyone to feel excluded, on the contrary, I hope that the club is a meeting place where everyone involved. Third, because we have to choose from a selection of titles offered by the Generalitat and the options are limited.

    FYI, I sent Ramon the reading list we have booked for the next course to incorporate them to the blog. As you will see there is a little of everything, in genres, themes, difficulty, vocabulary, etc.. Some lighter titles and others serious authors. Of course, we are open to receive any proposal that fits the club’s needs.

    See you soon.

  10. Carles Segura Plius | Reply

    Hi everybody.

    First of all, thanks to Ramon for create this site. It will be very useful.

    Just finished the book yesterday -too late… to wake up at 6 am…:-(

    About the story; I can’t agree with the sensation that the plot trivializes the terrible acts about people extermination. In fact, the easy way of Bruno to his self destruction and the passive resignation of the victims (the jews massively but not only) is, for me much, more creepy than the usually and epic Hollywood films.

    Is clear that the book is easy written but, the simple thinking of the boy is well expressed and you can guess that the naive behavior of the boy is how the writer express that the boy, and deutsche people by extension, prefer no confront the reality of the monstrosity that their leaders were doing an follow their lives with minimum disruption. Is not the same in the small quotidian tragedies. I KNOW, I know isn’t possible to compare; those acts were, probably, the most atrocious that humankind has recorded, but …well as I like to say we are just sophisticated monkeys and when dangers loom over the survival instinct wash over all social behave.

    Well, this my be an over interpretation for my part but…

    Read you son 😉


  11. Carles : I am a bit confused … Can you help me a bit ?

    I agree on the “sophisticated monkey”, but you lost me with
    “when dangers loom over the survival instinct wash over all social behave” …

    And google translator does not help a lot …
    “quan els perills planen sobre el rentat instint de supervivència sobretot social, es comporten”

    Lets start from the beginning : is there a “comma” missing somewhere ?

    Maybe it should look like this …
    “when dangers loom over, the survival instinct wash over all social behave”

    Next step : “wash” – infinitive … mmm, we must improve this point. Where is the substantive, the subject of the action ?

    Last but not least : “behave”, another verb, but I have no idea how to fix that.

    Sebastian, pro-positive in fact (:-))

    pd.- a nice page explanation


  12. Carles Segura | Reply

    Yes, Sebastian

    You are correct, “when dangers loom over, the survival instinct wash over all social behavior”

    Més o menys “quan els perills ens amenacen (en espanyol dirie’m -se ciernen-), l’instinc de supervivència escombra, arrosega, elimina… qualsevol comportament social.

    Bé aixó, és el que intenatva expresar amb les meves limitades habilitats angleses :-()

    So, thank for the corrections. I’ll try to be more acurate but my skills are what they are.


  13. Amalia Martín | Reply

    Hi everybody,
    It’s my first post, so my lines are to thank Ramón for this great idea that allows us to practise and get in touch in another way.

    I wanted to express my surprise when I so pajamas and not pyjamas, first I thought it was a spelling error but I’ve found both are used.


  14. Hi everybody,
    The last Friday I arrived from Mexico , and until now I haven´t had time to read the blog, I thank Ramon for this wonderful idea. There are also interesting comments, and I think the blog is a good way to practice English and also to provoke dialogue and knowledge.
    Recovering a comment, this summer I read the book “Life and faith” in Catalan (Vida I Destí), casually was the compulsory book for other Library’s Reading Club, for me is a masterpiece, I recommend if you like reading, but the original language is Russian, and for me I think is better to read more easy English books and if it is possible written originally in English
    In the other hand I beg your pardon, my English needs a lot of practice and patience, I will thank all yours corrections and comments. I don’t know what it means ” in England some people they do have “excessive wind” …,please can someone give the answer?
    If I have time, I’ll write more another day about the current book, and thanks for de suggested links.

  15. JaJaJa, bon dia Assumpció : “excessive wind” means “tenir gasos” (en català), jajaja
    En Sebas

  16. Hi, coleagues. Yesterday Andrea was very clever to take the book out of WWII influence. Almost all of us were criticizing it about being “blind” or “childish”, but she gave us a new look : the fence in the book or the fences all around us.

    And talking about barriers, I spoke about “Canal de Gibraltar” and did not know the english name for it – it is “Strait of Gibraltar” or arab “Gate of Charity”

    Someone mentioned “Canal de la Mancha” – in England it is “the channel” or “the english channel”, french “La Manche”

    Curiously, spanish “Canal de la Mancha” has nothing to do with french “La Manche”
    French “La Mache” refers to the Channel’s sleeve, and spanish “mancha” means “stain”, while the word for “sleeve” is “manga”.

    Enjoy. Sebastian.

  17. Hello Everyone!
    I hope everyone has started reading the book, if not I hope you will soon. I am writing because I wanted to know if it was possible to move the Book Club hour to 7pm rather than 730pm. If it works for everyone we will move it to 7pm, if not we will just stick with the same hour, being 730pm. Let me know what you guys think…
    Thanks Andrea

  18. Hi there, mates,
    I’m Roser, sorry I couldn’t make it for our last meeting, I was looking forward to comenting that second reading with you, and I’m sure the discussion was very interesting….that was really a pity!
    It is ok for me to change the time to 7pm, as Andrea suggests. So let’s see what the rest of you have to say about it, and hopefully I’ll find some time in the next days to write some comments here…
    Till soon,

  19. Hi, Roser – Sebastian here.

    Last friday Andrea did a very clever move : she separated the book plot from the WWII, and that changed everything. Few of us were quite angry on the way the book managed such a cruel episode, but Andrea focused on the good point in the book : the fences in our lifes.

    We spoke about few of them and I pointed to the “esctrecho de Gibraltar”, separating rude Africa from sweet Europe, and we found we dont know the english name for the chanel. Today, I know it is “strait of Gibraltar”
    or (nice arab name) “Gate of Charity” …

    Someone mentioned “Canal de la Mancha” – the brits call it just “the Channel”, even the oficial name is “English channel”
    French call it “La Manche”, to refer to the Channel’s sleeve (French: la manche) shape. It is curious this name has nothing to do with spanish “canal de la mancha” – “mancha” means “stain”, while the word for “sleeve” is “manga”.

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