Geraldine Brooks returns to Middle East to gather facts for new book

Award-winning Australian author Geraldine Brooks returns to the Middle East, where she began her career as a journalist, to observe life under Israeli occupation for a book that will mark 50 years since Israel took control of the West Bank.

In a minivan racing through the streets of East Jerusalem heading towards the Qalandia checkpoint, the people onboard make the journey feel like the green room of some fantastic writers’ festival.

The bus was packed with award-winning authors — the American Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon, Dave Eggers, Rachel Kushner, as well as the Nigerian poet and novelist Helon Habila.

Also perched quietly on her seat, astutely observing all the surroundings, is Brooks.

“I hadn’t done any reporting in Israel since about 1995, and I felt that I had become very out of touch with the situation on the ground,” she said.

Like the others, Ms Brooks is here on a research mission.

They have all agreed to write a chapter for a book project that will be published next year, marking 50 years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

Read full ABC Correspondent’s report from Sophie McNeill.