After two decades, Oprah Winfrey has picked a whopping 85 books for her famed book club list. Most recently, in partnership with Apple, her picks have included Ta-Nehisi Coates’ The Water Dancer and Elizabeth Strout’s Olive, Again — and that Oprah stamp of approval surely helped both became bestsellers. Now, she’s back with another must-read book, and while her selection was chosen “well before the events of the past weeks, during which our collective hearts are being broken again and again by the images of violence against Black people,” as she explained in an Instagram post announcing the choice, it couldn’t be more timely: James McBride’s Deacon King Kong.
Set in 1960s New York, McBride’s latest work brings to life a community of people who’ve been affected by a shooting in a south Brooklyn housing project, while weaving in themes like poverty, racial tensions, crime, and loss. “In a moment when our country roils with righteous anger and grief,” Oprah continued in her Instagram post, “Deacon King Kong reminds us that when we come together as a community in compassion and empathy, our love triumphs.”
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President Obama also gave McBride his stamp of approval in 2015, when he awarded the author the National Humanities Medal “for humanizing the complexities of discussing race in America.” McBride is also the National Book Award-winning author of The Good Lord Bird and the beloved memoir The Color of Water. Deacon King Kong was released in March.
McBride shared his gratitude for being chosen as Oprah’s 85th book choice in his own IG post. “In a world that at times seems to be going mad, books are a source of reason and discourse — a pipeline to freedom,” he wrote. “It’s my job, as a writer, to believe in the good and the right. The belief that we have more in common than we are different has driven my career. I’m grateful to Oprah for the chance to share that view, through my book, with the members of Oprah’s Book Club.”
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