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John Boyne's A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom: An ambitious saga from Herod to Trump and beyond

Fiction: A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom

John Boyne

Doubleday, 448 pages, hardcover €23.80; e-book £9.99

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Without fear:  John Boyne takes on a number of personas. Photo by Kyran O’Brien

Without fear: John Boyne takes on a number of personas. Photo by Kyran O’Brien

A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom by John Boyne

A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom by John Boyne

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Without fear: John Boyne takes on a number of personas. Photo by Kyran O’Brien

John Boyne is a classic example of an author who writes a book so huge that it overshadows everything else he had done before and will ever do again.

In his case, that book was The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, his first children's book, which sold millions. If he never wrote another book after that, his place in literary history would already be assured.

Less successful writers have every right to look on enviously; but many who do find themselves in that fortunate position often complain that the work for which they're best known can become an albatross around their necks, and few ever manage to produce another as striking.