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Geraldine Brooks

Author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning March and the international bestselling People of the Book

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  • About Geraldine Brooks

    Australian-born Geraldine Brooks is an acclaimed author and journalist known for her immersive, character-driven historical novels. Her fiction debut, Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague, was published in ten countries and was a 2001 Notable Book of the Year for The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune. For her second novel, March, Geraldine was awarded the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and her third book, People of the Book, became an instant New York Times bestseller. Her fourth book, Caleb’s Crossing, was the winner of the New England Book Award for Fiction and the Christianity Today Book Award, and was a finalist for the Langum Prize in American Historical Fiction. The Secret Chord, Geraldine’s newest novel about the fascinating life of King David, was released in 2015 to critical acclaim.

    Beginning her career at The Sydney Morning Herald, Geraldine later moved to the United States to attend the journalism master’s program at Columbia University in New York City. She then spent 11 years as correspondent at The Wall Street Journal, where her beats included some of the world’s most troubled areas, including Bosnia, Somalia, and the Middle East.

    Geraldine is also the author of two acclaimed works of nonfiction, Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women, and Foreign Correspondence: A Penpal’s Journey from Down Under to All Over. Geraldine was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University in fall 2005 and was the recipient of the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Lifetime Achievement.

  • Speaking Topics

    The Art of the Historical Novel: Making Fiction from Fact

  • Video

  • Praise for Geraldine Brooks

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    I don’t even know where to begin to describe what a wonderful event and experience we had yesterday. Geraldine was sweet, funny, intelligent, informative and by 7:00 p.m. last night the general consensus was that she was one of the best authors we have had in 17 years of doing this.

    Hershey Public Library

    Praise for Horse

    Brooks’ chronological and cross-disciplinary leaps are thrilling . . . [Horse] is really a book about the power and pain of words . . . Lexington is ennobled by art and science, and roars back from obscurity to achieve the high status of metaphor.

    The New York Times Book Review

    In her thrilling new novel Horse, Geraldine Brooks moves back and forth between the 19th century and the near present with the same practiced ease she displayed in her 2008 epic People of the Book . . . Brooks [has an] almost clairvoyant ability to conjure up the textures of the past and of each character’s inner life . . . Her felicitous, economical style and flawless pacing carries us briskly yet unhurriedly along. And the novel’s alternating narratives, by suspending time, also intensify suspense.

    Wall Street Journal

    [A] deft novel . . . create[s] a picture of the artistic, athletic, and scientific passions that horses can inspire in humans.

    The New Yorker

    [A] sweeping tale . . . fluid, masterful storytelling . . . [Brooks] writes about our present in such a way that the tangled roots of history, just beneath the story, are both subtle and undeniable . . . Horse is a reminder of the simple, primal power an author can summon by creating characters readers care about and telling a story about them—the same power that so terrifies the people so desperately trying to get Toni Morrison banned from their children’s reading lists.

    Maggie ShipsteadThe Washington Post

    Horse isn’t just an animal story—it’s a moving narrative about race and art.

    TIME

    A thrilling story about humanity in all its ugliness and beauty . . . while the historic detail in the book is impressive, it’s the fictions filling in the blanks where Brooks’ genius truly shines . . . The care with which Brooks crafts each character’s voice is a plea to look past the categorical labels and legends with which we describe each other, to truly see the individual. Paired with a compelling plot, the evocative voices create a story so powerful, reading it feels like watching a neck-and-neck horse race, galloping to its conclusion—you just can’t look away.

    Oprah Daily

    A confident novel of racing and race . . . with tender precision, Horse shows us history in flux . . . the book returns the Australian-American novelist to the terrain that won her a Pulitzer Prize with March, her 2005 tale of the war-absent father from Little Women. She brings the same archival confidence and sensory flair to the antebellum racetrack.

    The Guardian

    This is historical fiction at its finest, connecting threads of the past with the present to illuminate that essentially human something . . . Calling all horse girls: This is the story of the most important racehorse you’ve never heard of, but it’s also so much more than that.

    Good Housekeeping

    A testament to the intelligence and humanity of animals, a stinging rebuke of racist and abusive humans, and a study of how the past gets recorded, remembered, and remade . . . anyone who ever grew up loving horses, anyone who dearly loves an animal, will find a cornucopia of riches in this novel.

    Boston Globe

    This heart-pounding novel about a famous antebellum champion thoroughbred named Lexington and his talented, enslaved trainer circles two tracks, one historical, one contemporary, to highlight the ongoing scourge of racism in America.

    Christian Science Monitor

    Brooks is an accomplished writer . . . [She] has a talent and passion for research that is fully expressed here—she writes beautifully about the anatomy of horses and the delicate work of ‘articulating’ their skeletons, arranging every bone in its proper place. The descriptions of 19th-century horse racing, when the animals were bred differently and raced much longer tracks, are thrilling.

    The Atlantic

    Horse mingles the past with the present, and history melds with well-informed invention . . . Brooks crafts an exceptionally sensitive portrayal of an enslaved groom and his special bond with Lexington.

    Smithsonian Magazine

    Horse glows . . . engrossing, masterful . . . Brooks makes each setting come alive . . . [N]ot the least of the lessons of Horse is an understanding of the redemptive power of art.

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    [F]ew authors can claim the range of Geraldine Brooks . . . What truly sets her work apart from many others, however, is the rigorous and extensive nature of her research […] which shines through on every page. Readers will not only enjoy Brooks’s well-told tales but will also likely learn something new along the way . . . The end result is a deliciously dense, character-rich exploration of the world of horse racing that still manages to make some stinging observations about the modern-day state of race in America.

    Paste

    [Y]ou won’t be able to contain yourself while reading this elegant story about three generations of people inspired by the story of America’s greatest racehorse . . . This is a novel about love, anger, passion, and justice—unbridled and bursting.

    LitHub

    Brooks is such a sharp pleasure to read . . . her research is meticulous, but she wears it lightly. And she writes supple, vigorous prose . . . she sees a universal condition that transcends the boundary lines of time and place . . . in short, she operates one of the best time machines around.

    With exceptional characterizations, Pulitzer Prize–winner Brooks tells an emotionally impactful tale . . . [The] settings are pitch-perfect, and the story brings to life the important roles filled by Black horsemen in America’s past. Brooks also showcases the magnificent beauty and competitive spirit of Lexington himself.

    Booklist, (Starred Review)

    Brooks probes our understanding of history to reveal the power structures that create both the facts and the fiction . . . [She] has penned a clever and richly detailed novel about how we commodify, commemorate, and quantify winning in the United States, all through the lens of horse racing.

    Library Journal, (Starred Review)

    [A] marvelous novel. Brooks structures the book like a mystery . . . Through Jarret’s story, the author reveals the unique and indispensable role Black trainers and jockeys played in the pre-Civil War South . . . Equestrian or no, readers will appreciate Brooks’s invitation to linger awhile among beautiful and graceful horses, to see the devotion they engendered in her characters.

    Shelf Awareness

    “A fascinating saga based on the true story of a famous 19th-century racehorse . . . Brooks’s multiple narratives and strong character development captivate, and she soars with the story of Jarret.”

    Publishers Weekly

    “[Brooks] demonstrates imaginative empathy […] and provides some sardonic correctives to White cluelessness . . . Brooks skillfully […] demonstrate[s] how the poison of racism lingers. Contemporary parallels are unmistakable . . . Strong storytelling in service of a stinging moral message.”

    Kirkus Reviews, (Starred Review)

    [A] sweeping exploration of racial injustice.”

    Electric Literature

    Praise for The Secret Chord

    Rich and imaginative. . . Thanks to Brooks, David is as compelling as he is contradictory, with the writing in The Secret Chord as lyrical as the lyre that David plays.

    The Minneapolis Star Tribune

    There’s something bordering on the supernatural about Geraldine Brooks. She seems able to transport herself back to earlier time periods, to time travel. Sometimes, reading her work, she draws you so thoroughly into another era that you swear she’s actually lived in it. With sensory acuity and a deep and complex understanding of emotional states, she conjures up the way we lived then. . . Brooks has humanized the king and cleverly added a modern perspective to our understanding of him. . . [Her] vision of the biblical world is enrapturing.

    The Boston Globe

    The Secret Chord—a thundering, gritty, emotionally devastating reconsideration of the story of King David—makes a masterly case for the generative power of retelling. . . some of the magic here has to do with setting and time—for sensory dramatics, it’s hard to compete with the Iron Age Middle East. . . but Brooks’s real accomplishment is that she also enables readers to feel the spirit of the place.

    The New York Times

    It’s this David—gifted artist, vainglorious alpha male, conflicted husband and father—that we meet in The Secret Chord, the beautiful, subtle, grave new novel by Geraldine Brooks. . . The Secret Chord paints [a] fresh portrait of King David. . . For Brooks, David is interesting not for his status as the most beautiful man in art history, but, rather, for his matrix of contradictions. . . in this telling, he is the Bible’s ultimate Machiavellian.

    USA Today

    In her gorgeously written novel of ambition, courage, retribution, and triumph, Brooks imagines the life and character of King David in all his complexity. . . The language, clear and precise throughout, turns soaringly poetic when describing music or the glory of David’s city. . . taken as a whole, the novel feels simultaneously ancient, accessible, and timeless.

    ALA Booklist
  • Books by Geraldine Brooks

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