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Geraldine Brooks: People of the Book

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Date and time
Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Geraldine Brooks, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of *March*, discusses her latest work. *People of the Book* is a novel about the journey of a rare illuminated prayer book through centuries of war, destruction, theft, loss, and love.

Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Geraldine Brooks longed to be a newspaper reporter and after graduating from the University of Sydney she went to work for the *Sydney Morning Herald*. Three years later, she won a scholarship to attend Columbia University's Graduate school of Journalism. From there, she was hired by *The Wall Street Journal*. After a year covering basic industry in Cleveland, she returned home to Sydney and opened one of the *Journal*'s farthest flung bureaus, filing stories from the New Guinea highlands, Arnhem Land and South West Tasmania. From New Zealand, in 1987, she filed what she considers her most notable dispatch, on the opportunity to study global warming afforded by the country's huge, methane-producing, sheep population. The so-called "farting sheep" story led to her appointment as Middle East bureau chief for the *Journal*, where she spent six years covering regional conflicts, including the first Gulf War, and wrote her first book of non-fiction, *Nine Parts of Desire*, published in 1994. Later, as the *Journal*'s UN Correspondent, she covered conflicts in Bosnia and Somalia and African development issues. In Nigeria to report on Shell Oil's collusion with the Abacha military dictatorship, she was arrested and thrown in a lock up in Port Harcourt, accused of being a spy. While there, she began to consider a midlife career change. In 1995 she wrote a memoir, *Foreign Correspondence*, which chronicles a childhood enriched by penpals from around the world, and her adult quest to find them. Her first novel, *Year of Wonders*, published in 2001, was inspired by the true story of Eyam, Derbyshire, where villagers voluntarily quarantined themselves when plague struck in 1665. He second novel, *March*, a retelling of Louisa May Alcott's beloved classic *Little Women* from the point of view of Mr. March, the absent father, won the Pulitzer prize for Fiction in 2006. Her most recent novel, *People of the Book*, has been translated into more than 20 languages and was an instant *New York Times* bestseller.