John Boyne is famous as the author of the holocaust fable The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, but his latest work is A Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom, a generation-spanning history mystery in the vein of Cloud Atlas.
In one scene, a recipe for red dye is described:
"The dyes that I used in my dressmaking were composed from various ingredients … almost all required nightshade, sapphire, keese wing, the leaves of the silence princess plant, Octorok eyeball… For the red I had used for Abrila's dress, I employed spicy pepper, the tail of the red lizalfos and four Hylian shrooms."
These are recipes from the Nintendo game Breath of the Wild, a sprawling open-world adventure featuring the company's house elf Link and a roster of fabulous fauna and fauna.
Dana Schwartz was among the first to notice, quoting a pseudonymous redditor and quickly figuring out how Boyne found his way to the bizarre concoction.
Boyne is taking it well…
LOL that is actually kinda hilarious. I'm totally willing to own it. 😂🤣Something tells me I'll be telling this anecdote on stage for many years to come… 😂
— John Boyne 📚 (@john_boyne) August 3, 2020
… but perhaps got a shade shirtier ("I'm trying to block the entire thing from my mind.") as the thread took off.
Boyne's "first google result" research habits are not unknown to literary critics and have gotten him in more trouble than this in the past.
But it's his low opinion of video games that makes this one a classic.
"I am very embarrassed for him and this is my nightmare but it's also very funny," Schwartz wrote.