Geraldine Brooks Watch #8

Reviews of People of the Book

Jennifer Crocker on the "Tonight" website from South Africa: "Geraldine Brooks takes the reader on a history tour of note with People Of The Book, stopping along the way in the breathtaking sweep of her narrative to examine anti-semitism, the gruelling effect of war, and how love might be able to salvage the whole sorry mess...With her skill as a writer she handles her subject matter, which is based on a true story, with care."

Fiona on "a reader's random ramblings" weblog: "As an Australian, it is nice to read books with Australian voices and settings. Sometimes, however, Australian authors seem very self-conscious of their international readers, and tend to throw around a lot of Aussie slang for the sake of it. I think Brooks fell into this trap. At times I was cringing as the 'ockerisms' were flying!..I would recommend this book to readers who like to learn a little something as they're reading. It's a work of fiction, but is inspired by the true story of a Hebrew book known as the Sarajevo Haggadah."

People of the Book was shortlisted for the 2009 Prime Minister's Literary Award, and also shortlisted for the Library of Virginina Awards.

Review of March

"Kate's Library" weblog gave the book four out of five: "This is a fantastic work of historical fiction on many levels - first being that it weaves another level to "Little Women", a solid classic (one of my favorites!). There are many times when the novel flashes back to March's early years as a husband and father - and I can picture the characters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Brooks describes these scenes well, but in a much more mature voice. She has taken this classic tale and added another layer to the story - focusing not on the little women left behind, but on the harsh realities of the times, and on the marriage of Marmee and March."

Review of Year of Wonders

Dominique on the "Coffee Stained Pages" weblog: "Brooks evokes the disgusting nature of the disease with skill...Yet Brooks tells this tale of suffering, love, friendship and sacrifice so masterfully that even I, of a squeamish disposition, remained transfixed to the end."


The author is interviewed by Michelle Breidenbach for the "" website.

In "People of the Book," your character Hanna talks about how some foreign correspondents have "it can't happen to me" optimism and some are cowards. Where do you fit in?

I was the one, "It can't happen to me." I was in sort of a state of a certain amount of optimism. When you're in one of those places that's in crisis, when you see the news, you only see the violence. But you don't see that there are thousands of people living ordinary lives in those places at the same time. I guess I just identified with the people who were getting on with their lives.

In the afterward for "People of the Book," you thank all the people who shared their real stories with you. Why didn't you write their true stories? Why did you switch to writing fiction?

Because there's so much history of the Haggadah that you just can't know. It's just impossible. It was hard enough to track down the details of what happened during World War II, but to go back beyond that, to Venice in 1609 or to medieval Spain, we just have no idea who made that book, why they illustrated it at a time when that wasn't so common and then how it survived the Inquisition. The fact is that fact runs out very quickly with that story. So the only way to tell it is to take what's known and then fill in the voids with imagination.


Brooks spoke at the 21st annual PEN/Faulkner Fiction Gala in late September in Washington D.C., on the subject of "revelation".  And she also gave the Kenneth Binns Lecture at the Flight of the Mind conference, held in Canberra over the weekend of October 24-25.
In a piece on swine flu, Chris Skaugset compiles a list of books dealing with disease epidemics, on which he includes Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on November 18, 2009 10:55 AM.

Reprint: Hermannsburg Mission: More Authors Assist was the previous entry in this blog.

Best Books of the Year 2009 #3 - "Young Adult Library Services Association" is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en