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People of the Book by Geraldine  Brooks
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Sep 15, 12

Read in February, 2009

I think this is really a 4-star, but I went to Bosnia in 2005 so this had a lot of resonance for me. This is a nice piece of historical fiction about the Sarajevo haggadah (which is a real prayer book). Brooks uses actual known facts about the haggadah's travels and origins to weave this story of its creation and perilous journey to the present day. The protagonist is a hard-nosed antisocial archeologist who I really liked...I'm not sure what that says about me, but there it is. In her effort to conserve, NOT restore (a difference she explains VERY clearly), the haggadah, she comes across clues to its past and the book bounces you back to the time of the origin of the clue and then back to (semi) present day events. I like her style of writing, and she has SO much knowledge about world history and events -- as an almost throwaway aside, she covers a fair amount of Australian terrain and aboriginal history just because the protagonist is Australian, and for no other good reason I could discern. But I really liked the Australian bits. (Added Note: now I know that Brooks grew up in Australia from looking around online, it makes a bit more sense.)

It kept nagging me that the author's name was familiar so I finally looked her up online and realized she wrote another book (Nine Parts of Desire) I really appreciated for its exposition on Islam and women -- for instance, I read Reading Lolita in Tehran, but I thought Brooks' book, Nine Parts of Desire, was a much better and interesting set of observations on the real hows and whys and whats that Muslim women in the middle east face.


I think I am definitely going to read more Geraldine Brooks....
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