Stephen G. Bloom is the author of of Mermaids: The Secret Story of Pearls, a swashbuckling Indiana Jones saga that takes readers around the globe on a dazzling adventure to track the world’s most extraordinary gems.
Bloom sought to trace a single pearl, from the moment a diver off the Northern Australian coast scoops up from the seafloor an oyster with a glistening pearl inside — to the instant a woman 10,000 miles away fastens the clasp to a necklace containing the very same pearl. The nonfiction detective saga uses pearls as a metaphor to explore interconnections of global politics, the environment, world finance, and haute couture.
Bloom hired himself out as a pearling deckhand in the Timor Sea, tromped through Philippine jungles to reach one of the world’s great pearling-processing centers, fished for freshwater pearls in rural China, bargained in some of the globe’s great pearl bazaars, and got feted on remote island paradises of the world’s reigning pearl lords.
Bloom is a natural storyteller who weaves a remarkable tale about the world’s oldest and most enduring gems, and the women who have adored them — from Cleopatra, Queen Isabella, and Coco Chanel to Jacqueline Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, and Michelle Obama.
A professor of narrative writing at The University of Iowa, for more than two decades Bloom was an award-winning journalist for the Dallas Morning News, Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News, and Sacramento Bee. He was a foreign correspondent in Brazil for the Field News Service. Bloom’s essays have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, Washington Post, Smithsonian, London Guardian, Chicago Tribune, and Salon. He has appeared on CBS Sunday Morning, ABC World News Tonight, National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Bloom has been a writing fellow at the MacDowell Colony and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, as well as a visiting scholar at Columbia University.
In addition to Tears of Mermaids, Bloom is co-author (with Peter Feldstein) of The Oxford Project, which won the American Library Association’s Alex Award, author of Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America, the Chicago Tribune’s Best Book of the Year, and author of a collection of his nonfiction stories, Inside the Writer’s Mind.
Bloom, a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, lives in Iowa City, Iowa, with his wife and son.
Tears of MermaidsThe Secret Story of Pearls
St. Martin's Griffin
A round, luminescent pearl is the simplest and most perfect gem. Columbus sought—and found—this precious jewel coveted by his Spanish sovereigns, sparking popularity throughout Europe. Fashion icons Jacqueline Kennedy, Princess Grace, and Michelle Obama cherished them, making them iconic. And designer Coco Chanel raised them to new heights, bringing pearls— fake and real—to women everywhere. In Tears of Mermaids, Stephen G. Bloom travels 30,000 miles in an effort to trace a single pearl—from the moment a diver off the coast of Australia scoops an oyster containing a single luminescent pearl from the ocean floor to the instant a woman fastens the clasp of a strand containing the same orb.
Pearls and CocaineThe Global Connection: A talk on how both commodities help explain international finance.
A Pearl-Buyer’s PrimerA tactile, visual show describing the best buys in pearls today…Hint: Pearls are a bargain these days.
Lessons Learned from Postville The award-winning author who first reported on the insular community of Postville, Iowa, in his bestselling book, Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America, shares his insights on how and why the Hasidic community that created the world’s largest kosher slaughterhouse went on a rampage in the Eastern Iowa community, flagrantly violating a host of laws, which led to Postville’s becoming Ground Zero in a looming national battle of immigration reform.
“Stephen Bloom takes us into a world so hidden it might as well be underwater... An incredible feat of reportage.”
-Tom Zoellner, author of The Heartless Stone
"Bloom, a journalism professor at the University of Iowa, has poured his passion into Tears of Mermaids: The Secret Story of Pearls, a tell-all book about pearls and the network that delivers them to the world's well-dressed women. The more we learn, the more contagious his passion becomes."
“A satisfying mixture of history, science and popular culture.”