Nine years after their public spat began, Oprah Winfrey is going to give novelist Jonathan Franzen a second chance. The talk show queen named Franzen's latest effort, Freedom, as an Oprah's Book Club selection in her show's final season. In 2001, Franzen said publicly that he was uncomfortable having previous novel, The Corrections, promoted on Winfrey's show because her picks tended to be "schmaltzy" — prompting Winfrey to rescind her selection and cancel his scheduled appearance on her show. Was it appropriate to let Franzen back into her book club?
It allows Oprah's Book Club to come full circle: This is all about happy endings, says Jonathan Messinger at Time Out Chicago. This is Oprah's final season and Franzen was the book club's "most controversial choice" other than James Frey ("and there's no way Frey was coming back"). It makes sense for the talk show queen. "Not only will fences be mended, but Oprah goes out on a high cultural note."
"Rumor has it: Oprah Winfrey picks Jonathan Franzen's Freedom"
It highlights the fact that reading is a social activity: Oprah's selection represents a "generous move of closure," says Carolyn Kellogg in the Los Angeles Times. Oprah has realized the things that divide book lovers are "secondary to the fact that we are a community of people who love books. There's no need to fight." It's a celebration of togetherness that is "so very Oprah."
"Why is everyone saying Oprah will pick Jonathan Franzen again?"
Oprah's lucky that Franzen has forgiven her: Surely it's more a case of Franzen forgiving Oprah, says Victoria Leigh Miller at Associated Content. The author may have been "hesitant" over Oprah's book club, but "wasn't Oprah's inviting him and then uninviting him ... a bit rude?" Even James Frey got his time on the show after the A Million Little Pieces "book club flap." It's not as if Franzen needs "Oprah's stamp of approval" this time around — every newspaper in the land has touted Freedom as a future classic.
"Oprah forgives Jonathan Franzen — or is it the other way around?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How science is accelerating our search for alien life
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- 6 tiny scientific mistakes that created huge disasters
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The dangerously childish morality of liberal ObamaCare supporters
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1: 10 major differences between the book and the movie
- Inside Turkey's shadow war with ISIS
- 10 things you need to know today: November 22, 2014
Subscribe to the Week