Geraldine Brooks closes out Winter Words |

Geraldine Brooks closes out Winter Words

Author Geraldine Brooks will talk with Washington Post book critic Ron Charles in the final Winter Words presentation Tuesday evening.
Courtesy of Randi Baird

Aspen Words might have saved the best for last.

On Tuesday, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks will be at Paepcke Auditorium to finish out Winter Words.

The evening will include a conversation with Ron Charles, book critic for The Washington Post. The focus, her most recent work: “Horse,” based on the true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred Lexington, a novel of art and science, love and obsession, and unfinished reckoning with racism.

“I’m paired up with one of the greatest book critics. He’s also a hilariously funny satirist,” Brooks said.

Doors at the Paepcke open at 5:30, with the talk running from 6 to 7 p.m. Tickets are $30, and a virtual access ticket is $12. They are available at and at the Wheeler box office at (970) 920-5770. 

As for the novel: “This is an incredible story to tell. It took me six years,” she said. “It takes place years before the Civil War. Then, horses would race four miles at a blistering speed with incredible stamina. And this horse, it had a lot of adventures during the Civil War after racing. Kentucky was a border state, and horses were at risk for being stolen.”

Brooks’ fascination with this specific thoroughbred started with bones.

“My friend told me about this horse, how its skeleton was dug up and given to the Smithsonian to be studied,” she said. “This is the story of one of the most successful stud sires in American history. Every famous American horse has some Lexington bloodlines.”

The cover jacket of “Horse,” by Geraldine Brooks.

It’s not all horsing around. There’s also the dark history of racial exploitation.

“Success of thoroughbreds was a huge business in they 19th century, and it was built on plundered labor of enslaved black people and their expertise with the horses. They were the best trainers and jockeys, and cared for the horses and wellbeing,” Brooks said.  

“Horse” has sold over 400,000 copies so far in the United States since its 2022 release. 

Brooks began “Horse” in 2016 after she finished “The Secret Chord,” based on the life of King David, and published to critical acclaim in October 2015. 

Brooks’ first novel, “Year of Wonders,” was an international bestseller and was translated into more than 25 languages. It is now in development to become a film.

She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2006 for “March,” which examines Little Women from a different point of view. 

Brooks’ other novels include “Caleb’s Crossing” and “People of the Book,” both New York Times bestsellers. Brooks is also the author of three nonfiction works: “Nine Parts of Desire,” “Foreign Correspondence,” and “The Idea of Home.”  

Arriving last Wednesday, with her two sons, ages 26 and 20, in tow, Australian-born and now East Coast dweller Brooks said she is thrilled with Aspen’s winter offerings. 

“My boys are mad downhill skiers, and these are perfect conditions. We are used to the icy East Coast,” she joked.  

She has fallen in love with Aspen, she said, and has enjoyed other Aspen attractions besides the slopes.

“I just got back from Aspen High School. It was my second visit there,” she said. “The kids are incredibly well prepared and engaged. Some had read my entire book and others were assigned chapters and they submitted questions. Moreover, we had a wide-ranging talk about my history in journalism. Aspen High School has such a vibrant journalism program.”

Brooks is also a former journalist for The Wall Street Journal who covered crises in the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans.  

However, it’s here in Aspen she feels most recently humbled.

“This is just the best series,” she said about Aspen Words. “The caliber of authors that come. I’m just honored to be included with these esteemed colleagues. … “Aspen is so enthusiastic and well-read.”

Brooks biked to the Maroon Bells and Woody Creek Tavern during her summer visit. This time, she snowshoed with a guide from ACES. 

“That was a highlight, I learned so much. I’m bursting with tree and snow science. I can track animals in the snow,” said Brooks. “I love Aspen. Basically it’s a wonderful excuse to revisit one of the country’s most beautiful places.”

“Horse” is for sale at Explore Booksellers and will also be available, with signing Tuesday evening, after the presentation.

“You’ve got to support the local bookstores, and Explore Booksellers is just the best,” Brooks said.

For more information:


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