Fighting Ruben Wolfe by Markus Zusak

Fighting Ruben Wolfe

Markus Zusak


Fighting Ruben Wolfe by Markus Zusak

I say, 'Don't lose your heart, Rube.' And very clearly, without moving, my brother answers me. He says, 'I'm not tryin' to lose it, Cam. I'm tryin' to find it.'The Wolfe brothers know how to fight. They've been fighting all their lives. Now there's something more at stake than just winning.A powerful, poignant novel from the author of the international bestseller, The Book Thief.

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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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Publication date

28th January 2010




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