On Wednesday, Sept. 14, Creighton University Center for Health Policy and Ethics features novelist and Pulitzer Prize winning author, Geraldine Brooks as their Women and Health Lecturer. Her presentation, Hearing the Unheard: Recovering Women’s Voices in Historical Fiction, begins at 7 p.m. in Joslyn Art Museum’s Witherspoon Concert Hall. Thanks to grants from Humanities Nebraska and donations from generous sponsors and private patrons, the lecture is open to the public at no cost.
“It is an honor to host Geraldine Brooks, an immensely talented and accomplished artist and journalist, for this year’s Women and Health Lecture,” said Amy Haddad, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Health Policy and Ethics. “Ms. Brooks, through the dual lens of fiction and journalism, has been able to exquisitely and intimately portray the experiences of women, past and present, in her work.”
Australian-born Geraldine Brooks worked as a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Wall Street Journal, where she covered crises in the Mideast, Africa and the Balkans. She is the author of five novels: her 2006 Pulitzer Prize-winning March, and the international bestsellers Caleb’s Crossing, People of the Book, and Year of Wonders. Her 2015 novel, The Secret Chord, a fascinating historical fiction about the life of King David, will be available in paperback on Oct. 4. Ms. Brooks is also the author of three works of non-fiction. Her first book, Nine Parts of Desire, is a riveting account of her six years living among the women of the Muslim Mideast.
A convert to Judaism, Brooks spoke with Moment Magazine about her Jewish journey. Brooks met her husband, fellow journalist and author Tony Horowitz, while at graduate school at Columbia in New York City. “When we decided to get married, I realized that since Judaism was passed through the maternal line, if I didn’t convert I was going to be the end of a family that had made it through the Shoah and the Russian pogroms and goodness knows what else before that. So I decided to convert. It was more about history than faith at that time.” Today, Brooks feels “very much at home with Jewish observance. I am very happy to bow to the Torah and to the struggle of human beings trying to understand questions of existence. I think that’s what the Jewish reverence for the written word represents.”
In The Secret Chord, Brooks portrays Bathsheba as a victim of rape rather than in her more traditional role of seductress. “Male writers tend to portray Bathsheba that way because they are always looking at the situation through a male lens. How often have we heard just this sort of ‘blame the victim’ mentality in cases of sexual assault? When I look at the story, I read it completely differently. I see it from the point of view of a woman who is in a society that is entirely patriarchal; she has very little overt power. Bathsheba was dealt a very bad hand, but she knows how to play it. I intended this as a corrective to the male view that has usually been imposed on her.”
Since 1989, Creighton’s Center for Health Policy and Ethics has sponsored the Women and Health Lecture as a means of highlighting issues in women’s health and well-being. The Women and Health Lecture has featured speakers from a variety of fields over the past 25 lectures. Attendance for Geraldine Brooks’ Sept. 14 lecture will be capped at 1,000. Online registration is required. Register now at this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/26th-women-health-lecture-featuring-geraldine-brooks-tickets-26182575789. Questions? Call 402.280.2017.