Beyond the Book: Background information when reading People of the Book

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People of the Book

by Geraldine Brooks

People of the Book
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2008, 384 pages
    Jan 2009, 672 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lisa A. Goldstein

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Beyond the Book

Print Review

Did You Know?

  • People of the Book is a work of fiction inspired by the Sarajevo Haggadah - all the characters are imaginary, as are most of the events.

    Extensive photographs and a brief description of what is known of the Sarajevo Haggadah's history are available at

  • A Haggadah contains the order of the Passover Seder (a ritual feast held during Passover). Haggadah, which translates as "telling," fulfills the scriptural commandment to each Jew to tell their children about the Jewish liberation from slavery in Egypt, as described in the book of Exodus.

  • According to the online exhibit of the Passover Haggadah from the Yale University collections, the first printed version of the Haggadah was published in Guadalajara, Spain, in 1482 - just ten years before the expulsion of the Jews from Spain.

  • In modern times, the Haggadah has taken on a new significance as Jewish life has changed and evolved. Often, it reflects contemporary issues in addition to Israel's ancient history.

Interesting Links:

  • An essay by Brooks, that was first published in the New Yorker (Dec. 2007) and is reprinted at her website, which details the World War II history of the Sarajevo Haggadah.

  • A map illustrating the fictional path of the Sarajevo Haggadah taken from People of The Book.

This article was originally published in January 2008, and has been updated for the January 2009 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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