Fighting Ruben Wolfe by Markus Zusak

Fighting Ruben Wolfe

Written by Markus Zusak
Part of the Underdogs Series

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

Bestselling novelist Markus Zusak has written a taut and compelling novel which, suitably enough since it is about boxing, packs a punch. With not enough money coming into the house, two brothers set about to earn some extra cash. Picked up by a boxing promoter they start to fight for money. Having practised together, one with the left hand glove and one with the right, the two are both good but what will happen when they have to fight each other?


Fighting Ruben Wolfe by Markus Zusak

Keep it clean, fellas. Fair fight. Okay. Do it. Don't go down. If you go down, get up.

The bell, the fists, the fight. It begins, and the first round is death. The second round is the coffin. The third is the funeral. The Wolfe brothers know how to fight - they've been fighting all their lives. Now there's more at stake than just winning.

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Review of ‘Fighting by Ruben Wolfe’ by Books for Keeps [4 stars]

First published in Australia in 2000, this story concerns Ruben and Cameron, teenage brothers who become embroiled in the world of underground boxing clubs in order to earn money for their struggling working-class family. They begin by sharing a pair of gloves as they spar in the back yard, then Ruben is discovered by a talent-spotter after pulping a schoolmate who has insulted his dissolute sister. This brings them into the sleazy glamour of a world of committed gladiatorial violence, Ruben as an invincible but agonized champion, Cameron, our narrator, as the plucky loser who collects tips for taking his thrashings manfully. Both brothers earn money rapidly, but in a way that would horrify their parents.

The title is Ruben’s fighting name, but also a play on his battles with his brother, the world and himself. The prose style resembles the brothers’ boxing: lots of staccato, jab-like sentences with longer, more graceful flourishes of vivid description and reflection. Each chapter ends with a murmured conversation between the brothers in the darkness of the shared bedroom, suggesting concerned, ring-side chats between rounds. The book provides a traditionally punchy view of anguished masculinities – the fighters’ older brother and their father also have struggles of their own – but poignant complexities are brought out in the way in which the boys both embrace and resist the expression of their most humane instincts in violence.

About the Author

Markus Zusak

Australian author Markus Zusak grew up hearing stories about Nazi Germany, about the bombing of Munich and about Jews being marched through his mother’s small German town. He always knew it was a story he wanted to tell.

At the age of 30, Zusak has already asserted himself as one of today’s most innovative and poetic novelists. With the publication of The Book Thief, he is now being dubbed a 'literary phenomenon' by Australian and U.S. critics. Zusak is the award-winning recipient of a 2006 Printz Honor for excellence in young adult literature. He lives in Sydney with his wife and new baby.

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Book Info


224 pages
Interest Age: From 12


Markus Zusak
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Author's Website


Definitions an imprint of Random House Children's Books

Publication date

28th January 2010




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