Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A New Oprah Dawns?

I was pretty surprised by Oprah's latest book club selection, THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH by Ken Follett. Not for any reasons that have to do with the book itself, but mainly because of the author's oeuvre.

Though PILLARS and its newly released sequel WORLD WITHOUT END have been massive bestsellers all around the globe, Follett is best known as a writer of thrillers such as EYE OF THE NEEDLE and JACKDAWS. Doing a quick scan of Oprah's past selections, this is the first time she's picked an author who has dabbled in the murky genre known as "crime fiction." Maybe a few of them have written what could be generously described as "literary suspense," but I don't think you'll find any previous Oprah picks hanging around at Bouchercon.

This makes me wonder whether Follett's selection was a one off--simply a case of the right book at the right time--or if it means the Harpo'd one could be broadening her horizons. Certainly there are crime writers who tackle material that go far, far beyond traditional potboiler status, as did Follett, so is this selection perhaps a harbinger of a pure crime novel being selected in the future?

Certainly a few crime novels come to mind as being Oprah-worthy, a potent blend of style and substance. Lehane's brilliant MYSTIC RIVER perhaps. And hey, Laura Lippman's had a heck of a year...


Blogger Jenny Trout said...

Huh, I thought after "The Corrections" and its ensuing troubles with her show, she wasn't going to pick current authors for her book club. I guess her "Summer of Faulkner" must have lost some crucial book club viewers.

8:33 AM  

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