Her interview with Coates will stream on Apple TV+ when the subscription service launches on November 1, under the title Oprah’s Book Club. New episodes of the show, centered on future club picks, will appear every other month.
“It is one of the best books I have ever read in my entire life,” Winfrey said. “Right up there in the Top 5.” She said later that she wished that author Toni Morrison had lived long enough to read The Water Dancer. “I think she would be so proud.”
Also on Monday, Winfrey touted the pick on The Ellen Show (see video below). Host Ellen DeGeneres asked about the rumors of Winfrey doing a talk show for Apple. “I’m kind of done with the talk show,” she said. On Apple, she said, “I can do whatever I want — that’s what’s wonderful.” While some talk-show elements — interviews with newsmakers, for example — will remain in play, Winfrey said documentaries and the book club would be her main focus. “I’m kind of done with the every day,” she told DeGeneres. “I’m going to let you handle that. You are the gold standard.”
The Water Dancer is the debut novel from Coates, author of non-fiction books including Between the World and Me. Rooted in the story of slavery in America, the book charts the path of a young boy born into bondage on a plantation.
Winfrey appeared last March at an event teasing the Apple TV+ service. She highlighted the reach of the platform, which will roll out in more than 100 countries, amplified by the amount of Apple devices in the world. “They’re in a billion pockets, y’all,” Winfrey said.
Years ago, when Winfrey presided over her daily syndicated talk show and introduced her book club, the effect on book sales was dramatic. Publishers have long celebrated the club as a tonic, but in recent years, as Winfrey focused on building her OWN cable network as well as other projects, the club had a less regular platform. Apple is hoping to provide a more steady home while also benefiting from copies of club titles sold through Apple Books.
“Few people in the world can bring us together like Oprah, whose compassion and grace celebrating the power of books are unmatched,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a press release. “It’s our honor to provide a new platform for Oprah’s Book Club and support the American Library Association in opening hearts and minds to the joy of reading.”
On CBS, Winfrey was asked briefly about politics and whether she ever seriously thought about running for president in 2020. That notion gained currency after Winfrey’s galvanizing appearance at the 2018 Golden Globes, bringing the crowd to its feet with a speech accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award. “I never considered it,” Winfrey said. “Because it’s the kind of thing I think you feel in your gut, your soul, your being. You know if that’s the thing you’re supposed to do in life.” She added, “When I’m watching the debates, I’m so happy I’m not in any of it.”
In what could be interpreted as a dig against Hillary Clinton, Winfrey continued, “A lot of the candidates make the biggest mistakes — and certainly that happened in the previous election. There’s a law, a natural law, that says what you give your attention to expands. So you should not talk about the other guy, because you only empower your opponents when you talk about them. You should talk about what you are going to do and as little as possible not discuss what the other guy is doing.”
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