Geraldine Brooks http://geraldinebrooks.com Official author website Wed, 03 Feb 2016 22:47:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 For book groups: Great TV feature and interview http://geraldinebrooks.com/for-book-groups-great-tv-feature-and-interview/ Tue, 05 Jan 2016 14:00:17 +0000 http://geraldinebrooks.com/?p=575 For your book group: a wonderful TV feature on Secret Chord. Watch it here...

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This 20 minute segment has wonderful art and a very wide ranging interview about The Secret Chord.http://www.hectv.org/watch/maryville-talks-books/the-secret-chord-one-on-one-with-geraldine-brooks/21227/

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New York Times calls Secret Chord “blazing,” “masterly.” http://geraldinebrooks.com/new-york-times-calls-secret-chord-blazing-masterly/ Fri, 16 Oct 2015 21:17:38 +0000 http://geraldinebrooks.com/?p=561 "A thundering, gritty, emotionally devastating reconsideration of the story of King David" says Alana Newhouse in the Oct 25th Book Review. Read More...

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“A thundering, gritty, emotionally devastating reconsideration of the story of King David makes a masterly case for the generative power of retelling,” says Alana Newhouse in the Oct 25th Book Review.  “What’s added, to blazing effect, are the other characters…most crucially his mother and his wives…I dare readers to take in Brook’s rendition of it without crying at least once. (I did, three times.)”

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NPR Interviews http://geraldinebrooks.com/npr-interviews/ Mon, 05 Oct 2015 17:53:11 +0000 http://geraldinebrooks.com/?p=540 Geraldine on Weekend Edition and the Diane Rehm show. Read More...

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Geraldine on Weekend Edition Sunday Oct 3 and the Diane Rehm Show Monday Oct 4th. Read transcript or listen to WE interview: http://www.npr.org/2015/10/04/445751136/new-take-on-old-tale-novelist-retells-king-davids-story  Diane Rehm link will post soon.

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Alice “Dovekeepers” Hoffman review in the Washington Post http://geraldinebrooks.com/alice-dovekeepers-hoffman-review-in-the-washington-post/ Tue, 29 Sep 2015 12:37:39 +0000 http://geraldinebrooks.com/?p=530 "The Secret Chord reads like a prose poem...but it's a page turner of a poem...complex and fascinating." Alice “Dovekeepers” Hoffman review in the Washington Post appeared first on Geraldine Brooks.

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“Beautifully drawn in its complexity and sheer joy,” says Alice Hoffman, author of many novels, including The Dovekeepers. Read her full Washington Post review here:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/geraldine-brooks-reimagines-king-davids-life-in-the-secret-chord/2015/09/28/e0a4a69c-62de-11e5-9757-e49273f05f65_story.html

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“Peerless historical fiction”–first British review http://geraldinebrooks.com/peerless-historical-fiction-first-british-review/ Thu, 24 Sep 2015 16:53:51 +0000 http://geraldinebrooks.com/?p=524 The UK's Top 10 Books of the Month names The Secret Chord "spellbinding." Read More...

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The UK’s Top 10 Books of the Month names The Secret Chord “spellbinding.  The People of the Book was a properly luxurious affair – boldly plotted, deftly written and masterly in its blend of intelligence and pace. The Secret Chord is much the same, but traces the long and incredible life of the Biblical David. Resonant, deeply felt and expertly handled, this is peerless historical fiction and one that deserves as wide a readership as The People of the Book.”  — NetGalley

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Booklist Starred Review of The Secret Chord http://geraldinebrooks.com/booklist-starred-review-of-the-secret-chord-2/ Wed, 26 Aug 2015 17:51:23 +0000 http://geraldinebrooks.com/?p=495 "InThe Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks her gorgeously written novel of ambition, courage, retribution, and triumph, Brooks imagines the life and character of King David in all his complexity... Read More...

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“InThe Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks her gorgeously written novel of ambition, courage, retribution, and triumph, Brooks imagines the life and character of King David in all his complexity, from his humble childhood through old age. A brilliant harpist and singer with immense charisma, this man beloved by the Lord is also a fearsome warrior who ruthlessly pursues his vision of power. Natan, David’s longtime counselor and prophet, proves a shrewd chronicler for his tale, and David wisely knows it. The plot ranges back and forth in time, as Natan interviews three individuals David hand-selects for him to speak with, reminisces about his years of service, and observes David’s passion for the beautiful, married Batsheva and its consequences. This isn’t David’s story alone. Stitched onto the familiar biblical framework are insightful interpretations of his wives and family members. The language, clear and precise throughout, turns soaringly poetic when describing music or the glory of David’s city. Brooks’ preference for biblical Hebrew names emphasizes the story’s origins, and, taken as a whole, the novel feels simultaneously ancient, accessible, and timeless.”— Sarah Johnson

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Meet me in St Louis, or Miami, Philly, Auckland, Sydney, Toronto… http://geraldinebrooks.com/see-you-in-st-louis-or-miami-philly-auckland-sydney-toronto/ Wed, 22 Jul 2015 20:35:41 +0000 http://geraldinebrooks.com/?p=370 Four countries, thirty cities. My biggest tour ever, for The Secret Chord,images-1 Read More...

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Four countries, thirty cities. My biggest tour ever, for The Secret Chord, kicks off October 6 in Boston. You can see all my dates here

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The Secret Chord http://geraldinebrooks.com/the-secret-chord-2/ Wed, 22 Jul 2015 20:22:13 +0000 http://geraldinebrooks.com/?p=367       What interests you most about King David? How did you decide to write a novel about him?   When my son was about nine years old, he made the unusual decision to learn to play the harp. (I’d been braced for drums, so I didn’t actually resist the choice.) Watching him, dwarfed [...]

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What interests you most about King David? How did you decide to write a novel about him?

 

When my son was about nine years old, he made the unusual decision to learn to play the harp. (I’d been braced for drums, so I didn’t actually resist the choice.) Watching him, dwarfed by his teacher’s gorgeous concert instrument, I began to think about that other long ago boy harpist, the shepherd who became a king. He’s ubiquitous, after all: a cliché in our language (how many contests are David and Goliath battles?); gorgeously depicted throughout the history of Western art; the psalms attributed to him sung in churches and synagogues across millennia. But who was this warrior-poet-musician, this lover and killer, who experiences every human joy and every human heartbreak? I went back to the bible to look for him, and found that the best stories from his life are the least told ones.

 

 

How did you research and prepare to write THE SECRET CHORD?

 

I started with the period itself, the Second Iron Age, to discover as much as I could about the context for a leader like David. How did tribal power work? What did people eat? How did they fight? What would they have known about the wider world? Archaeology and ancient history answered many of these questions. Others had to be answered experientially.   What was it like to herd sheep on a hot afternoon in the Judean hills? My younger son and I went and did it. We also visited sites associated with David, going to places like the Valley of Elah where he clashed with Goliath, Ein Gedi where he hid out from Shaul and exploring the tunnels under Jerusalem where excavations are uncovering buildings of the Davidian period. I talked with Israeli military experts about some of the strategic issues David faced. I consulted experts on early Hebrew music, trying to get a feel for the sound of what David might have played.

 

 

As a journalist, you covered the Middle East for the Wall Street Journal. Did your experience with the location and its history enhance your ability to write THE SECRET CHORD?

 

My first impulse is to say no, because in three thousand years, too much has changed. The flora and fauna are entirely different. The land is dense with millions of people rather than the scattered thousands who lived there in that era. And yet on reflection, a number of experiences did shape my thinking. Covering modern desert warfare, interviewing contemporary despots and seeing how absolute power is wielded, living among people whose lives are entirely shaped, and sometimes deformed, by ardent religious conviction—all these things fed my imagination in some way. Also, in my six years living among the women of the region, I saw how those who may appear to be powerless on the surface, often in fact exert tremendous influence. This helped shape my thinking about the lives of David’s wives, Mikhal and Batsheva.

 

 

David is a complicated character—at once a warrior and despot, a lover and adulterer, a poet and composer, a coarse yet refined man of fierce will and great appetites who is also capable of baseness and treachery. In your opinion, what are David’s biggest flaws? What are his greatest strengths?

 

Well, he’s a murderer, which is pretty hard to get past. He abuses power. He’s also a criminally indulgent parent. But he is paid out heavily for these crimes and flaws. Unlike many of our modern leaders, when he makes a mistake, he admits it. He listens to criticism. I’m drawn to his ardency, his huge capacity for love.

 

 

David has been widely depicted in art, literature, and film. Did you consult other portrayals while writing THE SECRET CHORD? Is there anything you feel previous depictions get wrong about him?  

 

I read everything I could find. I watched some truly execrable movies. I revisited favorite art works and discovered masterpieces that were new to me. The Australian painter Arthur Boyd, for example, has a poignant depiction of David and Shaul that taps into the artist’s own pain as the son of a mentally unstable father. Many of the scholarly works, (Pinksy and Wolpe being two notable exceptions) tend to be either/or, black/white, twisting data to condemn or exonerate him. To me it was more interesting to accept the contradictions in his nature, the multi-faceted complexity of it.

 

 

How did you decide which stories and characters from David’s life to include in the novel, and which to leave out?

 

I didn’t leave much out. Perhaps I tended to dwell less on the military campaigns and more on the domestic entanglements. I found myself most drawn to the women in the narrative, the love stories—and, yes, hate-stories– of his many relationships.

 

 

The novel is primarily told through the eyes of Natan, the mysterious prophet who becomes David’s direct connection to the divine, his lifelong companion and advisor, and the moral conscience of the novel. Where did you inspiration for Natan come from?

 

The inspiration came from two references in the bible that I have used here as epigraphs, each of which refers to the lost “book of Natan.” The bible says Natan has given a full account of the lives of David and Shlomo, all their acts, “from first to last.” What would such a man have seen? What would he have known?   How would his portrayal differ from the accounts that we do have, in the two books of Samuel, in Kings and in Chronicles? It’s tantalizing, and it took hold of my imagination. I’ve always loved the Hebrew prophets, in any case. These men of huge moral force, these pain-in–the-ass truth tellers who had the guts to castigate their society and its rulers, often in the most exquisitely crafted language. You can feel their fierceness, their penetrating intelligence, their bravery.

 

 

 

You’ve written many historical novels, but none set so far back in time as THE SECRET CHORD. Was it challenging to capture the voice of the period?

 

I don’t think it’s possible to recapture the voice of a period so distant from our own. What I tried to avoid were the familiar flowery cadences of King James Bible English, striving instead for something that evoked the bluntness and the austere beauty of the biblical Hebrew.

 

 

What were the biggest challenges you encountered in the writing of this novel?

 

David shimmers somewhere in the half-light between history and myth. My challenge was to approach an emotional truth that seemed real and recognizable without losing the sense of the supernatural, the slightly magical aura that surrounds a man we’re told lived his life in the hand of the divine.

 

 

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Bring out your (walking) dead? http://geraldinebrooks.com/336/ Wed, 22 Jul 2015 16:58:55 +0000 http://geraldinebrooks.com/?p=336 Andrew Lincoln as Michael Mompellion in Year of Wonders? His company has optioned the novel. Now, who...

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  (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for MySpace)

(Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for MySpace)

Andrew Lincoln as Michael Mompellion in Year of Wonders? His company has optioned the novel. Now, who should play Anna Frith?

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Signing Galleys at Book Expo NYC http://geraldinebrooks.com/signing-galleys-at-book-expo-nyc/ Wed, 22 Jul 2015 16:03:25 +0000 http://geraldinebrooks.com/?p=333 Book Expo at the vast Javits Center can be overwhelming, so it was good to see so many booksellers I know at my signing.

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Book Expo at the vast Javits Center can be overwhelming, so it was good to see so many booksellers I know at my signing.

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