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Geraldine Brooks (writer)

Geraldine Brooks (born 14 September 1955) is an Australian American journalist and novelist whose 2005 novel, March, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. While retaining her Australian citizenship, she became a United States citizen in 2002.

Early life

A native of Sydney, Geraldine Brooks grew up in its inner-west suburb of Ashfield. Her father, Lawrie Brooks, was an American big-band singer who was stranded in Adelaide on a tour of Australia when his manager absconded with the band's pay; he decided to remain in Australia, and became a newspaper sub-editor; her mother Gloria, from Boorowa, was a public relations officer with radio station 2GB in Sydney. Her older sister is the writer Darleen Bungey. She attended Bethlehem College, a secondary school for girls, and the University of Sydney. Following graduation, she was a rookie reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and, after winning a Greg Shackleton Memorial Scholarship, moved to the United States, completing a master's degree at New York City's Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1983. The following year, in the Southern France artisan village of Tourrettes-sur-Loup, she married American journalist Tony Horwitz and converted to Judaism.


As a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, she covered crises in Africa, the Balkans, and the Middle East, with the stories from the Persian Gulf which she and her husband reported in 1990, receiving the Overseas Press Club's Hal Boyle Award for "Best Newspaper or Wire Service Reporting from Abroad". In 2006, she was awarded a fellowship at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Brooks's first book, Nine Parts of Desire (1994), based on her experiences among Muslim women in the Middle East, was an international bestseller, translated into 17 languages. Foreign Correspondence (1997), which won the Nita Kibble Literary Award for women's writing, was a memoir and travel adventure about 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, became an international bestseller. Set in 1666, the story depicts a young woman's battle to save fellow villagers as well as her own soul when the bubonic plague suddenly strikes her small Derbyshire village of Eyam.

Her next novel, March (2005), was inspired by her fondness for Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, which her mother had given her. To connect that memorable reading experience to her new status in 2002 as an American citizen, she researched the Civil War historical setting of Little Women and decided to create a chronicle of wartime service for the "absent father" of the March girls. Some aspects of this chronicle were informed by the life and philosophical writings of the Alcott family patriarch, Amos Bronson Alcott, whom she profiled under the title "Orpheus at the Plow", in the 10 January 2005 issue of The New Yorker, a month before March was published. The parallel novel received a mixed reaction from critics, but was nonetheless selected in December 2005 selection by the Washington Post as one of the five best fiction works published that year, and in April 2006, it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Although she was only eligible for the prize by virtue of her American citizenship, she was also the first Australian to win the prize.

In her next novel, People of the Book (2008), Brooks explored a fictionalized history of the Sarajevo Haggadah. This novel was inspired by her reporting (for The New Yorker) of human interest stories emerging in the aftermath of the 1991–95 breakup of Yugoslavia. The novel won both the Australian Book of the Year Award and the Australian Literary Fiction Award in 2008.

Her 2011 novel Caleb's Crossing is inspired by the life of Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, a Wampanoag convert to Christianity who was the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College, an achievement of the seventeenth century.

Brooks, at the invitation of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, delivered the 2011 series of the prestigious Boyer Lectures. These have been published as "The Idea of Home", and reveal her passionate humanist values.

The Secret Chord (2015) is a historical novel based on the life of the biblical King David in the period of the Second Iron Age.


  • 2006: Pulitzer Prize for March
  • 2008: Australian Publishers Association's Literary Fiction Book of the Year for People of the Book
  • 2009: Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award
  • 2010: Dayton Literary Peace Prize Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2016: Officer of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day Honours



  • Year of Wonders (2001)
  • March (2005) ISBN 9780143115007, OCLC 1055419299
  • People of the Book (2008) ISBN 9781460750858, OCLC 910657795
  • Caleb's Crossing (2011) ISBN 9780143121077, OCLC 861687308
  • The Secret Chord (2015)


  • Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women. 1994. ISBN 0-385-47576-4.
  • Foreign Correspondence: A Pen Pal's Journey from Down Under to All Over. 1997. ISBN 0-385-48269-8.
  • Boyer Lectures 2011: The Idea of Home (or "At Home in the World"). 2011. ISBN 978-0-7333-3025-4.


Further reading

  • Cunningham, Sophie (June 2011). "Caleb goes to Harvard". Australian Book Review (332): 55–56. Review of Caleb's crossing.
  • Steggall, Stephany (March 2012). "Geraldine Brooks". Celebration. Australian Authors Past & Present. Australian Author. 44 (1): 22–25.

External links

  • Geraldine Brooks official website
  • Geraldine Brooks interviewed by Ramona Koval on ABC Radio National's The Book Show, regarding her novel, People of the Book
  • "A Muslim Response to 'Nine Parts of Desire'", Resources for and about Muslim Women,
  • Geraldine Brooks' Civil War March, NPR
  • 2008 Interview: Geraldine Brooks, Littoral, blog -Key West Literary Seminar
  • Geraldine Brooks on IMDb
  • Appearances on C-SPAN

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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