People of the Book is described as a novel of “sweeping historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity.” A rare-book expert, Hanna Heath, finds herself in the precarious position of protector, seeking a safe journey for the Sarajevo Haggadah, a priceless illuminated Hebrew manuscript painstakingly made in 15th Century Spain. She finds minute artifacts such as an insect wing, salt crystals, and a white hair within its 600-year-old binding, which hints at mysteries to be unlocked and throws Hanna into the lairs of fine art forgers and nationalist fanatics.
Australian born and an American citizen since 2002, Geraldine Brooks was a war correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, covering the Middle East Crisis, Africa and the Balkans. Her books are international bestsellers, starting with the non-fiction works Nine Parts of Desire (1994) and Foreign Correspondence (1997). These were followed by her first novel Year of Wonders (2001), then March for which she won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. People of the Book won the Australian Book of the Year Award and the Australian Literary Fiction Award in 2008.
The whole month of March is filled with events that relate to People of the Book and coalesce into One Book, One City. There are lectures, musical performances, storytelling, workshops, community book discussions, and exhibits located at the public library, City College, Pasadena Museum of History, Caltech and All Saints Church. Most events are free, though one lecture is ticketed: guest speaker Edward Serotta tells of the discovery and rescue of the Sarajevo Haggadah during World War II and the Bosnian War, as well as the story of Jews, Muslims, Serbian Orthodox and Catholic Croats who put aside their ethnic and religious animosities to work side by side to save their beloved city of Sarajevo.
One City, One Story starts off this Thursday, March 1st with Pasadena’s first OCOS author Mark Salzman, who wrote The Soloist. He will talk about what inspired his latest non-fiction book The Man in the Empty Boat, and about his journey publishing it as an eBook original.
This Saturday at 10 a.m., children can try their own hand in creating an illuminated manuscript at the Santa Catalina Branch Library (ages 5-12).
One City, One Story
Thursday, March 1st, 7 p.m. at Central Library, Mark Salzman, author of The Soloist.
Thursday, March 22nd, 7 p.m. at All Saints, Geraldine Brooks, 2012 OCOS author, discussing People of the Book (available at all Pasadena Public Library locations).
For a complete list of events, visit onecityonestory.com or call 626.744.7270
Editor’s note: an illuminated manuscript is not a back lit iPad! It’s a manuscript that has not only text, but the addition of decorated initials, borders, and miniature illustrations. This kind of work is also defined as painted.