Friday, April 1, 2011

Author Q&A and Galley Giveaway: CALEB'S CROSSING by Geraldine Brooks

CLOSED.

Award-wining author Geraldine Brooks' new book, CALEB'S CROSSING, will be released on May 3rd by Penguin Group USA. I'm really excited about this book because it's local history for me. This novel takes place primarily on Martha's Vineyard and Massachusetts, and I live in Rhode Island. I love learning about history through the personalized perspectives of historical fiction, and this book will be hitting close to home -- literally!

Penguin has provided a Q&A with Geraldine Brooks and is generously offering galley copies of CALEB'S CROSSING to two (2) lucky readers of A Sea of Books. Details of the giveaway can be found at the end of this post.


Pub. Date: May 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Format: Hardcover , 320pp
ISBN-13: 9780670021048

Description (from the publisher):
A richly imagined new novel from the author of the New York Times bestseller, People of the Book.
 
Once again, Geraldine Brooks takes a remarkable shard of history and brings it to vivid life. In 1665, a young man from Martha's Vineyard became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. Upon this slender factual scaffold, Brooks has created a luminous tale of love and faith, magic and adventure.
 
The narrator of Caleb's Crossing is Bethia Mayfield, growing up in the tiny settlement of Great Harbor amid a small band of pioneers and Puritans. Restless and curious, she yearns after an education that is closed to her by her sex. As often as she can, she slips away to explore the island's glistening beaches and observe its native Wampanoag inhabitants. At twelve, she encounters Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a tentative secret friendship that draws each into the alien world of the other. Bethia's minister father tries to convert the Wampanoag, awakening the wrath of the tribe's shaman, against whose magic he must test his own beliefs. One of his projects becomes the education of Caleb, and a year later, Caleb is in Cambridge, studying Latin and Greek among the colonial elite. There, Bethia finds herself reluctantly indentured as a housekeeper and can closely observe Caleb's crossing of cultures.
 
Like Brooks's beloved narrator Anna in Year of Wonders, Bethia proves an emotionally irresistible guide to the wilds of Martha's Vineyard and the intimate spaces of the human heart. Evocative and utterly absorbing, Caleb's Crossing further establishes Brooks's place as one of our most acclaimed novelists.

About the author (from the publisher):
Geraldine Brooks is the author of Year of Wonders and the nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence. Previously, Brooks was a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, stationed in Bosnia, Somalia, and the Middle East.

Q&A with Geraldine Brooks, author of
CALEB’S CROSSING

Note: This Q&A was provided by the publisher for publication at A Sea of Books.

Caleb Cheeshahteamauk is an extraordinary figure in Native American history. How did you first discover him? What was involved in learning more about his life?

The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head/Aquinnah are proud custodians of their history, and it was in materials prepared by the Tribe that I first learned of its illustrious young scholar. To find out more about him I talked with tribal members, read translations of early documents in the Wopanaak language, then delved into the archives of Harvard and the Massachusetts Bay Colony, especially the correspondence between colonial leaders and benefactors in England who donated substantial funds for the education and conversion to Christianity of Indians in the 17th century. There are also writings by members of the Mayhew family, who were prominent missionaries and magistrates on the island, and John Cotton, Jr., who came here as a missionary and kept a detailed journal.

There is little documentation on Caleb’s actual life. What parts of his life did you imagine? Do you feel you know him better after writing this book, or is he still a mystery?

The facts about Caleb are sadly scant. We know he was the son of a minor sachem from the part of the Vineyard now known as West Chop, and that he left the island to attend prep school, successfully completed the rigorous course of study at Harvard and was living with Thomas Danforth, a noted jurist and colonial leader, when disease claimed his life. Everything else about him in my novel is imagined. The real young man—what he thought and felt—remains an enigma.

Bethia Mayfield is truly a woman ahead of her time. If she were alive today, what would she be doing? What would her life be like with no restrictions?

There were more than a few 17th century women like Bethia, who thirsted for education and for a voice in a society that demanded their silence. You can find some of them being dragged to the meeting house to confess their “sins” or defending their unconventional views in court. If Bethia was alive today she would probably be president of Harvard or Brown, Princeton or UPenn.

The novel is told through Bethia’s point of view. What is the advantage to telling this story through her eyes? How would the book be different if Caleb were the narrator?

I wanted the novel to be about crossings between cultures. So as Caleb is drawn into the English world, I wanted to create an English character who would be equally drawn to and compelled by his world. I prefer to write with a female narrator when I can, and I wanted to explore issues of marginalization in gender as well as race.

Much of the book is set on Martha’s Vineyard, which is also your home. Did you already know about the island’s early history, or did you do additional research?

I was always intrigued by what brought English settlers to the island so early in the colonial period...they settled here in the 1640s. Living on an island is inconvenient enough even today; what prompted the Mayhews and their followers to put seven miles of treacherous ocean currents between them and the other English—to choose to live in a tiny settlement surrounded by some three thousand Wampanoags? The answer was unexpected and led me into a deeper exploration of island history

You bring Harvard College to life in vivid, often unpleasant detail. What surprised you most about this prestigious university’s beginnings?

For one thing, I hadn't been aware Harvard was founded so early. The English had barely landed before they started building a college. And the Indian College—a substantial building—went up not long after, signifying an attitude of mind that alas did not prevail for very long. It was fun to learn how very different early Harvard was from the well endowed institution of today. Life was hand to mouth, all conversation was in Latin, the boys (only boys) were often quite young when they matriculated. But the course of study was surprisingly broad and rigorous—a true exploration of liberal arts, languages, and literature that went far beyond my stereotype of what Puritans might have considered fit subjects for scholarship.

As with your previous books, you’ve managed to capture the voice of the period. You get the idiom, dialect, and cadence of the language of the day on paper. How did you do your research?

I find the best way to get a feel for language and period is to read first person accounts—journals, letters, court transcripts. Eventually you start to hear voices in your head: patterns of speech, a different manner of thinking. My son once said, Mom talks to ghosts. And in a way I do.

May 2011, Tiffany Smalley will follow in Caleb’s footsteps and become only the second Vineyard Wampanoag to graduate from Harvard. Do you know if this will be celebrated?

In May Tiffany Smalley will become the first Vineyard Wampanoag since Caleb to receive an undergrad degree from Harvard College. (Others have received advanced degrees from the university’s Kennedy school etc.) I’m not sure what Harvard has decided to do at this year's commencement, but I am hoping they will use the occasion to honor Caleb’s fellow Wampanoag classmate, Joel Iacoomis, who completed the work for his degree but was murdered before he could attended the 1665 commencement ceremony.

Click here to visit the author's website.

RULES FOR ENTERING THE GIVEAWAY:

Leave an original comment on this post telling me you would like to win. Include an email address with your comment so that I can contact you if you do win. Use a spam-thwarting format such as geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com or geebee.reads [at] gmail [dot] com

You must leave an email address in order to qualify. If I can't contact you, you can't win!

• You can earn an extra entry by being or becoming a Follower or Subscriber of this blog and telling me about it in a separate comment.

• Blog about this contest and provide me with the link to the post in a separate comment, and I'll give you yet another entry.

• Tweeting about this contest and providing me the link in a separate comment will get you one more entry. I've added a Retweet button at the bottom of every post.

• Stumble this blog, Digg it, or Technorati Fave it, whatever, and leave a separate comment for another entry.

• Winners must provide a U.S. or Canadian street address. The publisher is unable to deliver to P.O. Boxes.

• PLEASE NOTE: One win per household. If you win this title in another contest hosted at another blog, the publisher will only send one copy per household address.

Deadline for entry is 11:59 p.m. EST on Wednesday, April 6, 2011.

Winners will have 24 hours to respond to my email announcing that they have won; if I don't hear from a winner, I will draw another name.

• Winners are determined using the sequence generator at Random.org.

Thank you to Rebecca
at Viking / Penguin
for making this giveaway possible.

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

52 comments:

Wall-to-wall books said...

Hey please enter me in this great giveaway!
I read "Year of Wonders" thought it was a great book, would love to also read this.

forevereading at gmail dot com

Wall-to-wall books said...

I am a follower

forevereading at gmail dot com

Wall-to-wall books said...

I posted it on my sidebar!

forevereading at gmail dot com

Sandra K321 said...

Living in New England and being a historical fiction fan, I would love to read this. My father's ancestors arrived here during the 1600's and it's so hard to imagine living here then.
seknobloch(at)gmail(dot)com

Sandra K321 said...

I follow your blog with GFC as Sandra K321.

Furry Bottoms said...

I would love to win this book. I love historical fiction and because this is about a native american, I am especially interested in reading it. My email is auntnikki12@gmail.com.

Furry Bottoms said...

I am a "new" follower of your blog, although not today and not because of this post. I became a follower a few days ago. I don't think that counts, but just wanted to say anyway! :)

Anonymous said...

Please enter me in your great contest.
I really enjoyed reading "Year of Wonders". Would like to read more of the Pulitzer prize winner Geraldine Brooks.
RJB
loki304(at)tds(dot)net

Furry Bottoms said...

I blogged about your blog and the contest! http://furrybottoms.blogspot.com/2011/04/sea-of-books.html

Susan M. Heim said...

I love historical fiction, especially based on early American history, so this book sounds fascinating.

Susan M. Heim said...

I follow as ParentingAuthor.

Sorry, I forgot to leave my email address in the first entry. It is smhparent at hotmail dot com.

Thank you!

Susan M. Heim said...

tweet http://twitter.com/#!/ParentingAuthor/status/53856740327948288

PoCoKat said...

Sounds like a great book and I would like to read it.

pocokat AT gmail DOT com

PoCoKat said...

I follow on GFC

pocokat AT gmail DOT com

bermudaonion said...

I've never read Brooks' work, so I'd love to be entered in your great giveaway. kathy(at)bermudaonion.net

bermudaonion said...

I subscribe in Google Reader. kathy(at)bermudaonion.net

rubynreba said...

I love to read about Martha's Vineyard and historical books so I know I would love this. Another thing that stood out was Bethia since my name is Beth!
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

rubynreba said...

I follow your blog.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

traveler said...

This historical novel would be fascinating. thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

I am an e-mail subscriber. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Audra said...

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog -- I'm glad you found me -- you read a lot of books I'm curious about it!

Like this one! I tried -- and failed to finish -- Year of Wonders and so wrote Brooks off but clearly I need to give her another try -- first March and now this one getting such good reviews. (Living in Boston makes this local history stuff a lot more compelling, too!)

Thanks so much for the giveaway!

Audra said...

I also became a follower! I think I forgot my email in my previous comment, too -- unabridgedchick at gmail.com. Sorry abt that!

Sheena Gossett said...

Original comment? Wow, those can be hard to come by.

"This sounds interesting"
"I would really like to win"
"Love historical fiction"

I'm sure they are used extensively by others since I know I use them alot. I hope you get something really original (like this entry) and choose it.

Thanks

chamsmama (at) gmail (dot) com

Jackie Flaherty said...

I love the cover on this book and would LOVE to read it. Thanks for the opportunity!

Jackie(at)lettersandjournals(dot)com

Johi said...

I like to think of myself as both "original" and "a winner", which is why it would be perfect if I won this book!

Johi said...

I am also now following you on Google and I am super excited about it because I will now have PLENTY of recommendations for my book club (instead of the standard "I recommend this wine. It is good.")

Johi said...

Oh no! My email is :
jkokjohnwagner@yahoo.com
Whoops.

Susi said...

I have loved each and every one of Geraldine Brooks' novels and am so looking forward to her new one. Thanks for the opportunity to win it.

Anonymous said...

I love her books
gardnerad@juno.com

Benita said...

Sounds great! I'd love to read this book. My fingers are crossed.

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

Benita said...

Email subscriber.

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

Benita said...

GFC Follower.

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

karenk said...

would enjoy reading this novel...thanks for the chance :)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

karenk said...

email subscriber :)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Leontien said...

Good luck everybody but espesially Furry Bottoms! I hope you win!

Thanks
Leontien

Tore said...

I am a follower. Tore923@aol.com

Tore said...

I am an email subscriber. Tore923@aol.com

Tore said...

Please enter me in contest. I would love to read the book. Tore923@aol.com

a real librarian said...

Thanks for the chance to win!!

areallibrarian[at]gmail[dot]com

a real librarian said...

I also follow!

areallibrarian[at]gmail[dot]com

Melanie L said...

I haven't read many books about Native Americans before and I think it's really interesting that this book is based on a real person. This sounds like something I would enjoy reading. Thanks for the chance to win.
peacelily_2006(at)yahoo(dot)com

Melanie L said...

I'm a GFC follower. (Melanie L)
peacelily_2006(at)yahoo(dot)com

Melanie L said...

Tweet: http://twitter.com/#!/Melanie_2006/status/54291097039536128

peacelily_2006(at)yahoo(dot)com

Joann said...

Calebs Crossing sounds intriguing, and I would love to win!
jbdownie5@yahoo.com

Joann said...

email subscriber
jbdownie5@yahoo.com

librarypat said...

It is surprising that Harvard was established so early. I had no idea there had been an Indian School built and operated back then. Considering the attitudes towards and the treatment of the native peoples at that time, it isn't something I would have expected.
From the interview and description of the book, this is one I will be looking for. It goes on my Wish List today.

librarypat AT comcast DOT net

librarypat said...

I am a GFC Follower, librarypat.

librarypat AT comcast DOT net

librarypat said...

I am an email subscriber at the address below.

librarypat AT comcast DOT net

Zibilee said...

I have been on the fence about this book for a few weeks now. While I do really love Brook's other work, I am not sure if the issues in this book would be interesting for me. Then again, everything Brook's writes is just so darn amazing that I probably would love this one as well. So I'd love to throw my hat into the ring for your giveaway. Thanks for hosting it!!

zibilee(at)figearo(dot)net

I also follow your blog through google reader.

409cope said...

This looks like a great book that I would love to curl up with.cardshark42(at)hotmail(dot)com

409cope said...

I am an email subscriber.cardshark42(at)hotmail(dot)com

409cope said...

I tweeted-http://twitter.com/409cope/status/54724783186788352 cardshark42(at)hotmail(dot)com