The Pulitzer Prize For Fiction

2006 - Geraldine Brooks

Born: 14 September 1955; Sydney, Australia

Awarded for: "The Road"

Prize motivation: "Author of the novel Year of Wonders and the nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence. Previously, Brooks was a corresponent for The Wall Street Journal in Bosnia, Somalia, and the Middle East."

Field: Fiction

 


Books Written By Geraldine Brooks


About Geraldine Brooks

Australian-born Geraldine Brooks is an author and journalist who grew up in the Western suburbs of Sydney, and attended Bethlehem College Ashfield and the University of Sydney. She worked as a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald for three years as a feature writer with a special interest in environmental issues.

In 1982 she won the Greg Shackleton Australian News Correspondents scholarship to the journalism master's program at Columbia University in New York City. Later she worked for The Wall Street Journal, where she covered crises in the the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans. In 2006 she was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University.

Brooks' 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 was generally well received by the critics. It was selected in December 2005 selection by the Washington Post as one of the five best fiction works published that year. In April 2006, it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

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. Brook's "The Idea of Home" [107 pages], her 2011 Boyer Lectures given annually on invitation by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, reveals her passionate humanist values which inevitably enter her home, literature.


Reviews

March: A Love Story in a Time of War - Geraldine Brooks

By Susie

It has been years since I read Little Women, but more recently I have visited Louisa May's home town of Concord. I picked this novel with scepticism as "sequels" or spinoffs rarely live up to the original piece.

I was totally absorbed by the book. Frequently I found myself unable to decide whether this was fiction or fact. The writing is excellent, the characters well drawn, and the novel written in first person (mostly from the view of March, occasionally with the voice of Marmee) which made it all the more immediate. I will be recommending this novel all over the place and buying more of Brooke's work.

As the review says, this is the tale of the father of the Little Women, and flicks between his present position as chaplain in the American Civil War and his past when he first visited the southern states as a pedlar in his youth. He is a staunch abolitionist with fixed views, but the book challenges these views in terms of his idealism versus practicalities of the age, and also explores where personal courage lies. But over and above these lofty ideals, this book is vividly written and a wonderful reading experience - which is what great fiction should be. A novel worthy of being placed alongside Little Women.

March: A Love Story in a Time of War - Geraldine Brooks

By Joy Kenward

I loved Louisa M Alcot's 'Little Women' and it was simply delightful to read 'March' which brings these wonderful old characters to life again, together with their historical context. To hear Mr March's voice, and that of Marmee, very much for an adult audience, was revelatory. This book has an important message about how we understand (or misunderstand) those closest to us, and what we need to do with our lives. Yes, I loved it.