Oprah and Jonathan Franzen make peace

"Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen will be Oprah's next book club pick.

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    Jonathan Franzen will now join Toni Morrison on the roster of Oprah book club authors.
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It's not exactly on the level of peace in the Middle East – maybe a better comparison would be to the day that George Steinbrenner and Yogi Berra buried the hatchet – but in the book world it's a big deal. Melville House publisher and book blogger Dennis Johnson broke the news – then picked up by The New York Times – with a photo of Jonathan Franzen's bestselling novel "Freedom" adorned with the Oprah sticker. "Freedom," it seems, will be Oprah's next book club pick.

There's been speculation to this effect for some days now, but some pundits had pooh-poohed the rumors. Now that they turn out to be true, Oprah's choice has put an end to one of the more famous rifts in today's book world. Back in 2001 when Oprah picked Franzen's novel “The Corrections” for her book club, Franzen mused to the press that some of Oprah's picks were "schmaltzy, one-dimensional," and even cringe-inducing. When Oprah heard of the comments, she revoked Franzen's invitation.

Later, some commentators speculated that Franzen could have done nothing better to give himself a high profile. Certainly, even today, nine years later, the mention of Franzen's name almost always seems to be followed by a reference to the Oprah debacle.

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But now, it appears, it has all come to a peaceful conclusion. One way or another, the story pretty much guarantees a big audience for Oprah's show tomorrow, when the announcement of her book pick becomes official.

Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.

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