John Boyne, the author of the 2006 Holocaust novel “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” appears to have written his latest historical fiction with some slightly unorthodox reference material — namely, the latest game in Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda franchise.
The Irish author’s website describes his latest effort, “A Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom,” as “an epic tale of humanity” focusing on family stories “from Palestine at the dawn of the first millennium and journeying across fifty countries to a life amongst the stars in the third.”
But humanity isn’t the only thing featured in Boyne’s book — which is presumably meant to be historically accurate but includes a passage in which a character dyes a dress with ingredients including the “leaves of the silent princess plant,” “Octorok eyeball” and “Hylian shrooms.”
All of these fictitious items are from Nintendo’s 2017 fantasy adventure game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, where the game’s protagonist, Link, can create recipes from monster body parts and herbs.
The gaffe, originally discovered on Reddit, brought forth a surge of reactions across social media, with readers pointing out that Boyne had seemingly Googled directions for dying a dress red, stumbled upon one of the game’s recipes and taken it at face value.
Some commentators took the mistake as an opportunity to criticize Boyne, insinuating that he had done lazy research and would soon be receiving notice from Nintendo’s lawyers. Some shared an Irish Times review of the book which had caught the out-of-place recipe and called Boyne’s narrative “lively but long-winded.” Others used the Zelda mistake as an opportunity to highlight Boyne’s perceived transphobia stemming from his portrayal of a transgender character in his 2019 novel “My Brother’s Name is Jessica,” which is told from the perspective of a boy learning more about his transgender sister’s identity.
On his own Twitter account, however, Boyne appeared to take the mistake in stride, admitting that he found his hasty Googling “actually kinda hilarious” and would have to put The Legend of Zelda into the acknowledgments page of the book’s paperback edition.
Ironically, in a Sunday opinion piece for the Irish Independent titled “‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ would be difficult to publish today,” Boyne argued that the modern world was filled with far too many “agitators” who were “weaned on a diet of video games” and who criticize novelists for daring to write on challenging topics.
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