Boyne, John 1971–

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Boyne, John 1971–


Born April 30, 1971, in Dublin, Ireland. Education: Trinity College Dublin, B.A.; University of East Anglia, M.A. (creative writing).


Agent—Simon Trewin, PFD, Drury House, 34-43 Russell St., London WC2B 5HA, England. E-mail—[email protected].


Novelist. University of East Anglia writing fellow, 2005.

Awards, Honors

Hennessy Literary Award shortlist, for "The Entertainments Jar"; Curtis Brown Prize, University of East Anglia, 1994-95; Irish Times Literature Award longlist, 2000, for Thief of Time; Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year Award shortlist, 2005, for Crippen; Berkshire Book Award, Irish Book Award Novel of the Year shortlist, Prix Farmiente (Belgium) shortlist, British Book Award Children's Book of the Year shortlist, Lancashire Book Award shortlist, Sheffield Book Award shortlist, Borders Original Voices Award shortlist, Paolo Ungari award (Italy) shortlist, and Ottakar's Children's Book Prize shortlist, all 2006-07, and Irish Book Awards People's Choice Award and Children's Book of the Year honor, CBI Bisto Book of the Year award, and Carnegie Medal longlist, all 2007, all for The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.


The Thief of Time, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 2000, Thomas Dunne (New York, NY), 2006.

The Congress of Rough Riders, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 2001.

Crippen: A Novel of Murder, Penguin UK (London, England), 2004, Thomas Dunne (New York, NY), 2006.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, David Fickling (Oxford, England), 2006, published as The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: A Fable, David Fickling (New York, NY), 2006.

Next of Kin, Penguin (London, England), 2006, Thomas Dunne (New York, NY), 2008.

Author of weekly short-story column for Irish Sunday Tribune. Contributor to periodicals, including Cuirt Annual, Image, Irish Times, RTE Sunday Miscellany, Wake, RTE Storylane, Books Ireland, Harlequinned, Concrete, Expo, Cobweb IX, and Sunday Tribune New Irish Writing. Book reviewer for Irish Times, Sunday Tribune, Sunday Business Post, W, and Irish Review of Books.

Boyne's works have been translated into thirty languages, including Dutch, Russian, Spanish, Danish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Slovenian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish, and Turkish.


Boyne's short stories have been adapted as television productions, student films, and broadcasts on RTE Radio and BBC Radio 4. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was adapted as a feature film by Miramax/Heyday Films, 2007.


Inspired by a childhood love of reading, Irish novelist John Boyne never wanted to be anything but a writer. During college, he was shortlisted for the Hennessy Literary Award for a work he published in Ireland's Sunday Tribune newspaper, and in the years since he has earned critical praise for the novels Crippen: A Novel of Murder, The Congress of Rough Riders, and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: A Fable. Based on a true story about a British physician who murdered his wife and set sail for Canada with his younger mistress during the early twentieth century, Crippen was dubbed "gripping historical fare" by Booklist contributor Kristine Huntley. Also noted for their compelling characters, imaginative plots, and Boyne's skill as a storyteller, The Congress of Rough Riders recounts the life of Buffalo Bill Cody, while The Thief of Time follows Matthieu Zela, who, born in 1743, cannot die and looks, to all appearances, as a man in his late forties. While caretaking successive generations of his brother's family, Mattieu finds his life intersecting with characters ranging from Pope Pius IX and Robespierre to Charlie Chaplin in a "lively historical saga" that Booklist critic Michael Gannon noted possesses "a touch of the fantastic."

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas presents a tale of an unlikely friendship during World War II and focuses on nine-year-old Bruno. When Bruno moves with his family from Berlin, Germany, to a new location after his father receives a new military assignment, his world is suddenly divided in two by a large fence: on one side lives his family and on the other live the only other children he can see who are his own age. All of them, including Bruno's new friend, Shmuel, wear gray-striped pajamas. While Bruno remains ignorant of the true implications of his world, readers quickly realize that the boy resides near the Auschwitz concentration camp, and his father is commandant at the notorious prison.

Described by a Publishers Weekly reviewer as a "simple, thought provoking story," The Boy in the Striped Pajamas sparked a certain degree of controversy: while many critics felt that the work effectively conveys the horror of its true subject, some expressed concern that the novel diminishes the reality of the Holocaust for younger readers. "Boyne carries the story so effectively, particular in the ending, that few readers will avoid tears," concluded Benedicte Page in a review for Book-seller, and Hazel Rochman noted in Booklist that, "as the story builds to a horrifying climax, the innocent's experience brings home the unimaginable horror." A School Library Journal reviewer concluded that Boyne's "combination of strong characterization and simple, honest narrative make this powerful and memorable tale a unique addition" to Holocaust fiction.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas marked a change for Boyne. "I tend to plot out my novels quite densely in advance, but this one was completely different," he explained to Page in Bookseller. In this case, the two young characters who figure in the story came to Boyne one evening. He began writing the next day, and completed the first draft of the novel in less than a week.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, March 15, 2006, Kristine Huntley, review of Crippen: A Novel of Murder, p. 30; July 1, 2006, Hazel Rochman, review of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: A Fable, p. 48; February 1, 2007, Michael Gannon, review of The Thief of Time, p. 29.

Bookseller, October 7, 2005, Benedicte Page, "Books by the Shelf-full: Sitting at His Desk to Write Each Day Is Former Bookseller John Boyne's Definition of the Good Life," p. 25.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 2006, Loretta Gaffney, review of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, p. 60.

Horn Book, September-October, 2006, Roger Sutton, review of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, p. 575.

Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2006, review of Crippen, p. 3; August 15, 2006, review of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, p. 836.

Kliatt, September, 2006, Myrna Marler, review of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, p. 8.

New York Times Book Review, November 12, 2006, A.O. Scott, "Something Is Happening," p. 41.

Publishers Weekly, January 2, 2006, review of Crippen, p. 34; July 17, 2006, review of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, p. 158; November 20, 2006, review of The Thief of Time, p. 33.

School Library Journal, September, 2006, Susan Scheps, review of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, p. 202.

Sunday Times (London, England), October 1, 2006, Rose Costello, review of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, p. 14.

Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 2006, C.J. Bott, review of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, p. 420; February, 2007, review of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, p. 486.


Irish Writers Centre Web site, (June 22, 2007), "John Boyne."

Irish Writers Online, (June 22, 2007), "John Boyne."

John Boyne Home Page, (June 22, 2007).

Meet the Author Web site, (June 22, 2007), video interview with Boyne.