Friday, March 26, 2010

Oprah's Picks - where are they now? pt.3

This is the 3rd and final installment of this multi-part peek into authors whose books were picked to be included in Oprah's book club and what they've been doing in the years since their selection.

Starting in 2002 and running into 2005, Oprah actually moved away from contemporary titles and on to classics for her book picks. In that time she picked 9 titles of American and world literature. There was a lot of skepticism around the move, but Oprah's fame and personality brought a lot of readers to books that previously were the stuff of high school and university course lists.

East of Eden
by John Steinbeck
Cry, The Beloved Country
by Alan Paton
One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel García Márquez
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
by Carson McCullers
Anna Karenina
by Leo Tolstoy
The Good Earth
by Pearl S. Buck
Light in August, The Sound and the Fury
and As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

All of those authors except one are deceased, so there is little to tell about them in terms of updates. The one living author is Gabriel García Márquez who has published both a memoir, Living to Tell the Tale, and a novel, Memories of My Melancholy Whores in the year's since his Oprah selection. Oprah selected another of his older titles - Love in the Time of Cholera - for her book club in 2007.

I feel like I don't even need to tell you about what has happened to the contemporary author who Oprah next selected for inclusion in the book club - the inclusion of James Frey's book A Million Little Pieces in 2005 has become so infamous, it's difficult to imagine you haven't already heard about it. In a nutshell, after Oprah's endorsement of the memoir, it was revealed that much of what was presented as truth in the memoir, was actually untrue. Oprah's own website has a section devoted to the controversy. In 2007 a lawsuit was settled that offered money back to readers who were upset by the controversy. Despite the troubles, Frey is still writing - although his 2008 release Bright Shiny Morning is a novel.

We'll finish in 2006, when Oprah's only pick was Elie Wiesel's novel based on his experience during the Holocaust, Night. Published originally in 1958 in Yiddish and then translated into French and English a few years later, but Oprah's selection brought the book back into focus and onto bestseller lists. Since the Oprah inclusion, Wiesel has published a biography of an important historical Rabbi Rashi and another novel, A Mad Desire to Dance. Wiesel has a yet another forthcoming novel - The Sonderberg Case (which is a mystery) is due this August.

Oprah has of course continued her book club since 2006 ... if you want to know more about those authors and her current picks, visit her website.

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