Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

I just wanted to share my excitement about the imminent publication of Geraldine Brooks’ new book, Caleb’s Crossing.

Geraldine’s particular passion is for bringing to vivid life shards of little known history. With Year of Wonders we were all instantly transported to the terror and the marvel that was the English plague of the mid-seventeenth century. In People of the Book she illuminated the Jewish world going back through the centuries, and in March, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize, she gave us a compelling alternative view on Little Women.

I am only about a third of the way through my proof of Caleb’s Crossing, and I haven’t yet sighted a finished copy. So far it has proved itself to be beautifully written, measured in pace, nourishing to the imagination and utterly compelling to read.

As to the theme, it puts me in mind of some other great Australian novelists who have so recreated that clash of civilisation brought about when a colonising force comes face to face with first people – Kate Grenville’s Secret River, Richard Flanagan’s Wanting, and most recently (and probably most authentically) Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance. As an aside, it is fascinating to read an Australian’s take (albeit she probably has dual citizenship by now) to an American story.

Caleb’s Crossing is available from May 1 and can be pre-ordered now. A beautiful hardback edition is also available.

In the meantime, go here to read Brooks’ answers to our Ten Terrifying Questions.

As for her fascinating forays into non-fiction, try Nine Parts of Desire.

Geraldine Brooks spent six years covering the Middle East through wars, insurrections, and the volcanic upheaval of resurgent fundamentalism. Yet for her, headline events were only the backdrop to a less obvious but more enduring drama: the daily life of Muslim women. Nine Parts of Desire is the story of Brooks’ intrepid journey toward an understanding of the women behind the veils, and of the often contradictory political, religious, and cultural forces that shape their lives. Defying our stereotypes about the Muslim world, Brooks’ acute analysis of the world’s fastest growing religion deftly illustrates how Islam’s holiest texts have been misused to justify repression of women, and how male pride and power have warped the original message of a once liberating faith

In Foreign Correspondence, Geraldine Brooks longs to discover the vivid places where she believes history and culture are made. Penfriends from the Middle East, France and America offer her the window she craves on life beyond Australia’s isolated backyard. With the aid of their letters, Brooks turns her bedroom into the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, the barricades of Parisian student protests and the swampy fields of an embattled kibbutz. Twenty years later and worlds away from her sheltered girlhood, Brooks is an award-winning foreign correspondent covering war and famine. Still intrigued by the foreign correspondents of her adolescence, she embarks on a human treasure hunt in Israel, France and the US to find them.

Geraldine Brooks, author of Caleb’s Crossing, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Pulitzer Prize Winner

Geraldine Brooks

author of Caleb’s Crossing, Year of Wonders, Nine Parts of Desire and more…

Ten Terrifying Questions

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1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Born on Bland Street, Ashfield in Sydney’s inner west. Raised in nearby Concord. Schooled at St Mary’s Concord, Bethlehem Ladies College Ashfield, University of Sydney, Columbia University, New York City.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

A journalist, from the time I was eight years old. My father worked as a proof reader for a Sydney newspaper, and I loved the feel of the presses rolling underfoot, the ink-misted air, the spin of the newsprint through space and the feel of the paper when I took it off the conveyor belt, warm in my hand. Hot off the presses. The sense of being the first to know the news.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That it was easy to change the world for the better. I lived through a period of miraculous reform during the brief Whitlam years. It made me over optimistic. Now I know that the forces of reaction are hideously tenacious.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

When I was very young, my big sister took me to the Art Gallery of NSW to see an exhibition of Rodin sculptures. I loved, especially, the Burghers of Calais. There was a whole story told there.

I was in my 20s when I saw my first Papunya Tula painting. It changed forever the way I looked at the Australian landscape. Continue reading

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