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People of the Book

by Geraldine Brooks

How did a Hebrew Haggadah, a Passover book, get from 15th century Spain to 21st century Sarajevo, and how did it survive the journey? What role did a 21st century conservationist, a 15th century African woman, a 19th century Viennese doctor, specialising in sexually-transmitted diseases, and a 16th century Inquisitor play in the creation and saving of this book? And let's not forget the heroic librarians who saved the book from the Nazis, and again during the Bosnian War. The book is real and is still in the library at Sarajevo. The journey is imagined. Do you think it is feasible?

Extract

My lizard had chosen an excellent place to elude me, I thought, as I crawled under the bench, pushing aside papers and fallen volumes. I was down there when my father's sandalled feet appeared. I abandoned pursuit of my lizard then, and stayed as still as I could, hoping that he had come in search of a single scroll, and that he would leave again and allow me to slip away undiscovered.

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