Ask a Bookseller: 'Horse'

Ask a Bookseller Podcast
Ask a Bookseller

Alden Graves of Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vt., says he generally avoids books about animals, but he's glad he made an exception for Geraldine Brooks’ novel ‘Horse.’

Horse by Geraldine Brooks
Horse by Geraldine Brooks
Viking Press

The latest work by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author is a sweeping novel about horse racing — and racism — spanning from the 1850s to today. The novel is based on a real horse, Livingston, who is considered to be America's greatest racing horse, but the book’s human characters and their complex grappling with race are equally memorable.’

"Until the ‘Horse,’ I’d always pick a ‘Year of Wonders’ as my favorite Geraldine Brooks book,” says Graves, “but this this one has taken this place.”

The novel begins in 2019, when a Nigerian-American art history student who is struggling with his thesis topic picks up a dirt-stained picture of a horse from a pile of junk on the street.

As he seeks to learn more about the painting, he comes in contact with an Australian scientist at the Smithsonian, who uncovers Lexington's mounted skeleton gathering dust in an attic. They seek to piece together the history of the horse and the people around him who weren't included in the history books.

Meanwhile, in the 1850s, an enslaved boy named Jarrett is charged with raising a special foal in Kentucky. His father, a freed Black man, is a skilled horse trainer and former jockey who teaches his son all he knows while he saves up in hopes of buying Jarrett's freedom. Jarrett's bond and skill with Lexington are undeniable, yet Jarrett faces a world that would deny him ownership over his own life.

Weaving through time, with an additional stop at the 1950s New York arts scene, “Horse” is a “thrilling historical novel” that Graves highly recommends.

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