Geraldine Brooks (born 14 September 1955) is an Australian journalist and author whose 2005 novel, March, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. While still retaining her Australian passport, she became an American citizen in 2002.
She is not to be confused with the Emmy- and Tony Award-nominated actress Geraldine Brooks.
A native of Sydney, Geraldine Brooks grew up in its inner-west suburb of Ashfield, where she attended the all-girls' Bethlehem College and the University of Sydney. Following graduation, she was a rookie reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and, after winning a Greg Shackleton Memorial Scholarship, moved to the United States, completing a Master's degree in journalism at New York City's Columbia University in 1983. The following year, in the Southern France artisan village of Tourrettes-sur-Loup, she married American journalist Tony Horwitz and converted to his religion, Judaism. "The wandering Haggadah: Novel follows journey of ancient Sephardic text" (J. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California, January 25, 2008) As a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, she covered crises in the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans, with the stories from the Persian Gulf, which she and her husband reported in 1990, receiving the Overseas Press Club's Hal Boyle Award for "Best Newspaper or Wire Service Reporting from Abroad". In 2006 she was awarded a fellowship at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
Brooks and Tony Horwitz are the parents of two sons, Nathaniel and Bizuayehu, and divide their time between homes in Sydney and the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard.
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.
Published in late February 2005, her next novel, March, found its inspiration in memories of its author's early adolescence when her mother, Gloria, a journalist and radio announcer, gave her, when she was ten, a copy of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. As a way of making a personal connection from 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 March girls' absent father suggested, in some aspects, 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 January 10 issue of The New Yorker, a month before March's publication. The parallel novel was generally well received by the critics, resulting in its December 2005 selection by the Washington Post as one of the five best fiction works published during the year and, in April 2006, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
She attached tangible meaning to her adopted Jewish heritage in her subsequent work, People of the Book, published in January 2008, a fictionalized account of the history of the Sarajevo Haggadah, which grew out of her reporting, for The New Yorker, on 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.