Oprah and Franzen patch-up over ‘Freedom’

Spicezee Bureau

London: Nearly nine years after Jonathan Franzen criticised Oprhan Winfrey’s `schmaltzy, one-dimensional` book club choices, his new novel ‘Freedom’ is her latest pick.

According to publishers and booksellers, Oprah is due to announce the selection of Franzen`s latest novel, ‘Freedom’, for her book club tomorrow.

‘Freedom’ has already become a bestseller but the appearance of editions with the Book Club logo would definitely add to its sales.

According to a Chicago bookseller, "We`re just praying now that (Franzen`s publisher) Farrar, Straus and Giroux has a secret cache of ‘Freedom’ to disperse because it`s been next to impossible to keep it on our shelves."

Apparently, the reconciliation between Opran and Franzen is like the final chapter. Earlier, in 2001, Franzen told the Portland Oregonian that when he heard that Winfrey had selected his third novel, ‘The Corrections’, he "considered turning … down," the invite to appear on the show. "I see this as my book, my creation, and I didn`t want that logo of corporate ownership on it," he said.

Franzen followed these comments with an interview where he said that Winfrey had "picked enough schmaltzy, one-dimensional … (books) … that I cringe, myself, even though I think she`s really smart and she`s really fighting the good fight".

Consequently, the invite to appear on Oprah’s show was withdrawn, with the host explaining that "He is seemingly uncomfortable and conflicted about being chosen as a book club selection". She added: "It is never my intention to make anyone uncomfortable or cause anyone conflict."

Though Franzen said that he regretted his comments, he blamed media for being quoted out of the context. Talking to NY times, Franzen said, "I said things that ended up hurting Oprah Winfrey`s feelings and far too late it was pointed out to me that this was happening. I feel bad for a number of reasons, because I really don`t like to hurt people, and I feel bad because the person being hurt is actually a really good person for American writing and reading."

When Franzen’s novel won the National Book Award later that year, he offered his gratitude to Oprah "for her enthusiasm and advocacy on behalf of ‘The Corrections’".

Over the prevailing years, Franzen`s reputation only increased, making his fourth novel one of the hottest books. A second selection for Oprah Winfrey`s book club would definitely unlock a new level of sales for ‘Freedom’.


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