Happy Friday, dear readers!
Is anyone else delighted that the week has finally come to an end? As strange as it sounds, I need to recharge from my retreat.
There’s a lot of buzz in book world right now. Rumor has it that Oprah Winfrey will announce Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom as her last book club pick on today’s show. Other writers are a tad ticked about this, for two reasons:
- In 2001, Oprah chose Franzen’s The Corrections as her pick, only to drop the offer once she saw that he’d insulted her, her audience, and her overall choice of literature in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
- Franzen is not a man who needs help selling books. The New York Times gave Freedom a glowing review. Amazon ratings of the book are currently #1 in Fiction and Literature and #5 in Books. The Corrections, which was his third novel, won a National Book Award and was a finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Oprah has often selected authors that many of us had never heard of before. She gave a huge boost to the careers of Wally Lamb, Elizabeth Berg, and Edwidge Danticat, to name a few. Being an “Oprah Pick” was every writer’s dream (well, every writer except Jonathan Franzen, apparently). As much as people love to make fun of her, I used to pick up one of her choices whenever I was looking for a new author, and I was never disappointed.
It’s not surprising that new, struggling authors are decrying the selection of Franzen’s already bestselling work as the last Oprah Book Club pick. What is surprising is how many bestselling authors have sour grapes. Jennifer Wiener, who is one of my favorite authors of women’s fiction, bemoans Oprah’s pick on her Facebook Page. “So Oprah picks FREEDOM,” she writes. “Feels kind of inevitable. Also feels kind of like giving a winning lottery ticket to the guy who’s collected the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.”
But Wiener has no problem selling books, either, so (with all due respect, cause I love her) what’s she whining about?
In spite of what anyone may say about Oprah’s ego, I love her for getting people excited about books again. She hasn’t always chosen the undiscovered–what about Anna Karenina or 100 Years of Solitude? Not exactly unknown books. As far as I’m concerned, she can select whatever book she wants. The only sadness in this choice for me is the fact that Franzen slammed her choices, sneered at her audience, and intimated that his book was “too good” for her. So, in response, not one but two of his books are selected? If he’s such an insufferable snob, let him enjoy his success without Oprah’s help.
What do you think, dear readers? Have you read Franzen’s books? Are they deserving of all the accolades? Should Oprah have chosen something different for her last pick? Do Oprah’s selections have any bearing on what you read?