From the Pulitzer Prizewinning author of March, the
journey of a rare illuminated manuscript through centuries of exile
In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the
job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo
Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the
Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the
earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When
Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a
series of tiny artifacts in its ancient bindingan insect wing
fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hairshe begins to
unlock the books mysteries. The reader is ushered into an
exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the books
journey from its salvation back to its creation.
In Bosnia during World War II, a Muslim risks his life to protect it
from the Nazis. In the hedonistic salons of fin-de-siècle Vienna,
the book becomes a pawn in the struggle against the citys rising
anti-Semitism. In inquisition-era Venice, a Catholic priest saves it
from burning. In Barcelona in 1492, the scribe who wrote the text
sees his family destroyed by the agonies of enforced exile. And in
Seville in 1480, the reason for the Haggadahs extraordinary
illuminations is finally disclosed. Hannas investigation
unexpectedly plunges her into the intrigues of fine art forgers and
ultra-nationalist fanatics. Her experiences will test her belief in
herself and the man she has come to love.
Inspired by a true story, People of the Book is at once a
novel of sweeping historical grandeur and intimate emotional
intensity, an ambitious, electrifying work by an acclaimed and
The title encapsulates it all: it's about the people of the book, because if not for them, the Haggadah would not have survived. Brooks' larger message, one that's particularly apt today, could ultimately be about how diverse cultures influence and enrich one another. (Reviewed by Lisa A. Goldstein).
The Christian Science Monitor - Yvonne Zipp
The occasional heavy-handedness, as well as the fact that every single story is loaded with portent about the treatment of the Jewish people (and women) over the centuries, makes it impossible to shake off the knowledge that Brooks is always hovering over the pages, a benevolent professor conducting a history lesson in the importance of tolerance.
New York Times - Janet Maslin
"For the librarians," says the dedication page of Geraldine Brooks's new novel. That's an understatement. What librarian could resist a novel that has the word book in its title, is centered on an intrepid book conservator, exults in book-preservation exotica and has a plot about a rare book with a long, fraught and serpentine history? But the intense bibliographic appeal of People of the Book turns out to be a mixed blessing. It lands Ms. Brooks neck-deep in research. It overburdens her tale in ways that make it more admirable than gripping.
Entertainment Weekly - Jennifer Reese
The peripatetic tome embodies the long interrelationship — sometimes fruitful, often fraught — between Muslims, Christians, and Jews. But too often, you sense Brooks behind the scenes, pulling strings. B
Chicago Sun-Times Cheryl L Reed
Brooks is not a stylist. Her writing is descriptive without the pileup of clever adjectives. Having learned to write economically while a Wall Street Journal reporter, Brooks dispenses with events in her novel that in another author's hand would take pages. Her use of the dual narrative probably seemed like a nifty way of enlivening dusty details, but its construct detracts from the otherwise fascinating account of a booker whodunit.
Los Angeles Times - Emily Barton
A.S. Byatt published her literary mystery Possession almost 18 years ago, and it's been a long dry season for the genre since -- perhaps because books about books don't naturally present many occasions for derring-do. Geraldine Brooks has, however, half-found and half-invented a swashbuckling book and, despite occasional quirks, woven a tale that's haunting and satisfying.
Library Journal - Barbara Hoffert
Each story is engrossing and deftly woven into the narrative, though the telling is sometimes facile or cloying. Nevertheless, this latest from Pulitzer Prize winner Brooks (March) is a good addition to most libraries and excellent for discussion groups.
Rich suspense based on a true-life literary puzzle, from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Brooks.
Publishers Weekly - Margot Livesey
Brooks is too good a novelist to belabor her political messages, but her depiction of the Haggadah bringing together Jews, Christians and Muslims could not be more timely. Her gift for storytelling, happily, is timeless.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Dorothy T. Great historical novel Geraldine Brooks has a great talent for combining mystery, family conflict, and religious persecution within a framework of historical truth that makes this novel really engrossing. The way she ties the seemingly insignificant clues together and... Read More
Rated of 5
by Amanda (A Bookshelf Monstrosity) People of the Book Man, I love big, fat books in which I can totally get lost. And this book, spanning multiple countries over 500 years, is the ultimate saga covering art, religious persecution, book conservation, and more. I know that the length of the book can... Read More
Rated of 5
by linda McG Journeys I loved this book. It took me on a journey I've never traveled before.
Rated of 5
by PDXReader Good historical fiction I really loved the idea of tracing an important book back through history using clues left in its binding. The parts of this novel that focused on the object's past and on the people who had been involved in its handling were excellent and... Read More
Rated of 5
by Alina M Noval Magical gut wrenching book about man's inhumanity and humanity People of the book took me on a journey of complexity and more understanding of religions, the seriousness of their beginnings and the people who were raised by very strong principals. I was invested in more Christianity Judaism and of Muslims... Read More
Rated of 5
by Janice Prindle People of the Book My local bookstore owner recommended it, and she never steers me wrong. Brooks creates unforgettable characters as she leapfrogs from present day Sarajevo to World War Two to 19th century Vienna...and ultimately to 15th century Spain and the... Read More
People of the
Book is a work
of fiction inspired
by the Sarajevo
Haggadah - all the
imaginary, as are most of the events.
Extensive photographs and a brief
description of what is known of the
are available at
contains the order
of the Passover
Seder (a ritual
feast held during
which translates as
commandment to each
Jew to tell their
children about the
from slavery in
The international literary sensation, about a boy's quest through the secrets and shadows of postwar Barcelona for a mysterious author whose book has proved as dangerous to own as it is impossible to forget.
British Parliament asks Amazon to clarify why it pays $9 million in income tax on $23 billion of UK sales.(May 20 2013) Amazon will be called back to give further evidence to members of the British Parliament "to clarify how its activities in the U.K. justify its low corporate...