Winfrey picks novel 'An American Marriage' for book club

This cover image released by Algonquin Books shows 'An American Marriage,' by Tayari Jones. Oprah Winfrey has chosen the novel as her next book club pick. Winfrey's production company, Harpo Films, is planning an adaptation.  (Algonquin Books via AP)
This cover image released by Algonquin Books shows "An American Marriage," by Tayari Jones. Oprah Winfrey has chosen the novel as her next book club pick. Winfrey's production company, Harpo Films, is planning an adaptation. (Algonquin Books via AP)

Tayari Jones, whose novel "An American Marriage" has been chosen for Oprah Winfrey's book club, will always remember that phone call from last October.

She was driving in Las Vegas, expecting to hear from books editor Leigh Haber of Winfrey's magazine, "O," for which Jones has written reviews.

"But instead of Leigh's voice coming through the sound system of my car, it was Oprah's," Jones, 47, told The Associated Press during a recent interview. "I would have known that voice anywhere. And I just pulled over, in a not-so-great part of town. And people were tapping on my windows, and I was like, 'Go away, I'm trying to have the biggest moment of my life.'"

Winfrey's magazine and OWN network told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Winfrey had selected Jones' story of a young, newly married African-American couple and the husband's shocking arrest and prison term — for a crime no one he knows believes he committed — that upends their lives. Winfrey's production company, Harpo Films, is planning an adaptation.

Published Tuesday, the book was already one of the year's most anticipated novels and had reached the top 1,000 on Amazon.com before Winfrey's announcement. "An American Marriage" includes blurbs from Michael Chabon and Edwidge Danticat and was praised by The Washington Post as a compelling story that raises "punishing questions" and spins them "with tender patience." In a brief telephone interview with The Associated Press, Winfrey said Jones' novel made her respond in a similar way to other works she has picked for her club: She just had to tell others about it.

"I just get such a deep pleasure from the written word and finding out that other people feel the same way," said Winfrey. "It's kind of like sharing values. It's like saying here's an experience that I value and you're trying to get somebody to also appreciate it."

Winfrey's interview with Jones will appear in the March issue of "O," which comes out next week. As with other recent books, Winfrey will promote it in part through Amazon.com, where a video message from Winfrey is posted and an excerpt can be read for free on the Kindle e-book device.

By midday Tuesday, "An American Marriage" was No. 2 on Amazon, trailing only Jordan B. Peterson's advice book "12 Rules for Life."

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