Last week Geraldine Brook’s new novel Caleb’s Crossing made it to number 1 on the Independent books top 10 list.* It was released on May 3.
It’s fantastic that an Australian female author, who writes historical fiction has made it to number 1 in such a short amount of time, and plays into the recent debate about literary awards, chick lit (or perceived chick lit) and the ongoing saga of historical fiction not selling well.
I respect Geraldine Brooks as a novelist, particularly one who has made the transition from foreign correspondent to novelist. I have read many of her novels and find her writing intelligent and exacting. She recreates history with the subtly of human emotion underlying each page, while not shirking from the politics or religion of a particular period. The most recent novel I read of hers was The Year of Wonders which had me underlining passage after passage of inspiring prose (it was a remarkable ‘first novel’ too.)
She has won the Pulitzer Prize (for March), topped New York Times bestsellers and won the Australian Publishers Association’s Literary Fiction Book of the Year for People of the Book and been translated into 20 languages.
It’s hard to believe that we are still having public debate on the merit of female writers in Australia…
*I saw this printed in The Age, but when I searched The Age website for a reference to add to this article I could only find a people’s choice style top 10.