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Aspen Public Radio is proud to present select lectures, discussions, and conversations from area events and festivals, thanks to a remarkable collection of community partners. Click here to view the full archive. Events are recorded at no cost to the partner and archived here online; select recordings are broadcast on Aspen Public Radio Sunday nights at 7 p.m.

Aspen Words: Winter Words with Anne Patchett and Elizabeth McCracken

This event was recorded on January 11, 2024 at the Aspen Institute, as part of the 2024 Winter Words series, in partnership with Aspen Public Radio.

The 2024 Winter Words season began with acclaimed, award-winning author Ann Patchett and her longtime literary friend, Elizabeth McCracken in conversation. Patchett returned to the Aspen Words stage and discussed her latest work, Tom Lake, a “Reese’s Book Club” selection. The novel is a meditation on young love, married love, and the lives parents have led before children. McCracken is the author of eight books including her most recent novel, “The Hero of This Book.”


Ann Patchett is the author of nine novels, “The Patron Saint of Liars,” “Taft,” “The Magician’s Assistant,” “Bel Canto,” “Run, State of Wonder,” “Commonwealth,” “The Dutch House” and “Tom Lake.” She was the editor of “Best American Short Stories, 2006,” and has written four books of nonfiction–“Truth & Beauty,” about her friendship with the writer Lucy Grealy, “What Now?” an expansion of her graduation address at Sarah Lawrence College, “This is the Story of a Happy Marriage,” a collection of essays examining the theme of commitment and “These Precious Days,” essays on home, family, friendship and writing. In 2019, she published her first children’s book, “Lambslide,” illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, followed by “Escape Goat” in 2020.

A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Patchett has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including a National Humanities Medal, England’s Women’s Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Book Sense Book of the Year, a Guggenheim Fellowship, The Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize, The Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, the American Bookseller’s Association’s Most Engaging Author Award and the Women’s National Book Association’s Award. Her novel, “The Dutch House,” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her books have been both New York Times Notable Books and New York Times bestsellers. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages.

In November 2011, she opened Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, with her business partner Karen Hayes. She has since become a spokesperson for independent booksellers, championing books and bookstores on NPR, The Colbert Report(including the series finale), Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, The Martha Stewart Show and The CBS Early Show, among many others. Along with James Patterson, she was the honorary chair of World Book Night. In 2012, she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Elizabeth McCracken is the author of eight books: “Here’s Your Hat What’s Your Hurry,” “The Giant’s House,” “Niagara Falls All Over Again,” “An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination,” “Thunderstruck & Other Stories,” “Bowlaway,” “The Souvenir Museum” and “The Hero of This Book.” She’s received grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Liguria Study Center, the American Academy in Berlin, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. “Thunderstruck & Other Stories” won the 2015 Story Prize. Her work has been published in The Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, The O. Henry Prize, The New York Times Magazine, and many other places.