Brooks Hansen on The Brotherhood of Joseph

Brooks Hansen has written an account of his ultimately successful journey to becoming a father, after much disappointment, called The Brotherhood of Joseph. Like everything Hansen writes, it's honest and unusual and at times very heart-rending. Hansen has written a number of fine novels, including The Chess Garden which is one of my favorites of all time. I interviewed Hansen recently about the book. Many people go through difficulties in having children. Many of them are writers. Not all of them write a book about their experiences. You did. Why?
Brooks Hansen: Well, a quick glance at my output will reveal it’s not my first inclination to write intimately about my life. My books have tended to be about distant times and places. In this instance, I made an exception for two reasons, I guess. The first is that what Elizabeth and I went through is something a lot of people are going through these days, and that a lot of people are talking about. But there’s a real gap in the conversation. One doesn’t often hear the husband’s point of view. I don’t assume that I’m a typical husband or that our story is a typical one, but I still thought it might be worthwhile to get a male perspective out there.

Ultimately, though, if I’m being honest, that alone would not have compelled me to write the book. What compelled me to write the book is what happened to us in Siberia, specifically, in the course of around thirty-six hours. That day, day-and-a-half, was so far beyond anything I had ever experienced in my entire life, and ever hope to experience, I really had no choice but to try to express it. Given what I do for a living, it would have been cowardly, weird, and mildly deranged not to.


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