John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971. He attended Trinity College, Dublin, and studied creative writing at the University of East Anglia. To support himself at the beginning of his writing career, he worked at a Waterstone's bookstore. He is now the author of six adult novels and two novels for young readers, including The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which won two Irish Book Awards and was made into a feature film, and The House of Special Purpose. His new novel, The Absolutist, was published in the U.S. on July 10, 2012, by Other Press.
On your nightstand now:
Edward St. Aubyn's Patrick Melrose novels. There are five of them, following the protagonist's life from a traumatic childhood to an equally difficult adulthood, and I've been working my way through them over the last couple of weeks; Kevin Barry's Dark Lies the Island, the new collection of short stories from one of Ireland's best writers; Dave Shelton's A Boy and a Bear in a Boat, which is funny, moving and completely original.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Ian Serraillier's The Silver Sword. This book had a huge effect on me as a child, introducing me to the Second World War in fiction. It's a powerful novel for young readers but can be read by adults, too.
Your top five authors:
On any given day I would give a different answer to this question but here's today's five: Although American fiction is in a slump right now, with so few young writers producing interesting novels, two of the older generation, John Irving and Philip Roth, remain compulsive reads for me. Ireland's greatest novelist, Colm Tóibín, cannot write a bad sentence or a book that does not move the reader to his or her core. And I have long been a fan of the English novelist Jonathan Coe, whose complex plots make for some of the best novels of the last 20 years. Finally, from Australia, where so many of my favorite contemporary writers come from, Tim Winton, a lyrical novelist whose depictions of life in Western Australia are both poetic and powerful.
Book you've faked reading:
James Joyce's Ulysses. One day, maybe....
Book you're an evangelist for:
Christos Tsiolkas's The Slap. This extraordinary Australian novel considers the effects on a group of family and friends when a man slaps a child who is not his own. It depicts the Greek immigrant culture in Melbourne and is not afraid to mix a love for people with dark insights into human nature. I've read it several times, and I believe it to be the best novel published so far in the 21st century.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Random Riggs's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
Book that changed your life:
Roddy Doyle's novels from the early 1990s. They achieved such spectacular success, winning prizes, being adapted into movies, reaching huge audiences, that it showed me that a young Dublin writer could perhaps achieve the dream of being an international novelist. They're also wonderfully funny and moving books.
Favorite line from a book:
"But in the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases." --from The World According to Garp by John Irving.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
L.P. Hartley's The Go-Between, an elegiac novel of the traumas of first love. It is my favorite novel.