Synopses & Reviews
From adolescent pen pal in the suburbs of Australia to prize-winning foreign correspondent, Geraldine Brooks presents an intimate and captivating memoir. Born on Bland Street in a working-class neighborhood of Sydney, Australia, Geraldine Brooks longs to discover the vivid place where history happens and culture comes from. As a means of escaping the world around her, she enlists pen pals from around the globe who offer her a window on the hazards of adolescence in the Middle East, Europe, and America. With the aid of her letters, Brooks turns her bedroom into the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, the barricades of Parisian student protests, the swampy fields of an embattled kibbutz.
Brooks goes from the protected environment of a Catholic girls school to the University of Sydney, eventually renting her own flat near the bustling Sydney harbor. She hires on as an intern at The Sydney Morning Herald and then wins a scholarship to the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York City, where she begins her career as a foreign correspondent.
As a writer for The Wall Street Journal, Brooks reports on wars and famines in the Middle East, Bosnia, and Africa, but she never forgets her earlier foreign correspondence. Back in Australia to attend her dying father, she stumbles on her old letters in her parents' basement, and embarks on a journey that tales her around the world on the most meaningful assignment of her career. Her search leads her through Israeli moshavim, Arab souks, medieval French hill towns, Martha's Vineyard fishing shacks, and Manhattan nightclubs. One by one, she finds men and women whose lives have been shaped by war and hatred, by fame and notoriety, and by the ravages of a mysterious and tragic mental illness.
It is only from the distance of foreign lands and against the background of alien lives that Brooks finally sees her homeland and her own life clearly. Candid, thoughtful, and compelling, Foreign Correspondence speaks to the unquiet heart of every girl who has ever yearned to become a woman of the world.
In the tradition of Jill Ker Conway
's bestselling autobiography, The Road from Coorain
, Geraldine Brooks's Foreign Correspondence
is a memoir of an idyllic girlhood in the middle-class western suburbs of Sydney, Australia in the 1960s and 70s. The international pen friendships she forged with correspondents in France, the Middle East, New Jersey, and even one right across town, enriched her life and, ultimately, led to a career abroad as a foreign correspondent. As Brooks comes of age, so does Australia, and interwoven with her personal narrative is the story of her country's emergence from a parochial migrant colony to a diverse and fu11y mature independent nation.
Brooks goes from the protected environment of a Catholic girls school to the University of Sydney, and at the age of twenty, leaves the family home to finish university in her very own flat near the bustling Sydney harbor. She hires on as an intern at the Sydney Morning Herald and then makes the momentous and thrilling decision to leave Australia and attend the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York City, which leads to an illustrious career as a globe-trotting reporter.
But she never forgets "that other foreign correspondent the passionate young girl in faraway Sydney who dreamed of adventures in dangerous places." Brooks realizes that her pen pals were more than just a childhood phase. Rather, they have shaped her very being, and so she decides to track them down in adulthood. In so doing, she embarks on a bittersweet journey of self-discovery that takes her around the world on the most meaningful assignment of her life. Candid, thoughtful, and immediately captivating, Foreign Correspondence is a story about the ties of family, friends, and place, the conflicts of tradition and change, and the longing for a life elsewhere.