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Jonathan Franzen – rejected by Oprah, selected by Obama – at Union Square Barnes and Noble


Jonathan Franzen is a lucky man. Nine years ago, on NPR’s Fresh Air, he had this to say about his invitation to join the Oprah Book Club:

“So much of reading is sustained in this country, I think, by the fact that women read while men are off golfing or watching football on TV or playing with their flight simulator or whatever. I worry — I’m sorry that it’s, uh — I had some hope of actually reaching a male audience and I’ve heard more than one reader in signing lines now at bookstores say ‘If I hadn’t heard you, I would have been put off by the fact that it is an Oprah pick. I figure those books are for women. I would never touch it.’ Those are male readers speaking. I see this as my book, my creation.”

Although his comments provoked Oprah into rescinding the invitation soon afterwards, Franzen somehow lived to tell the tale and escape the wrath of womankind. And now, nine years later, he’s experiencing another round of publicity because one of Oprah’s favorite people was given his book to read on vacation. The Leader of the Free World, Barack Obama, got hold of Franzen’s latest, Freedom, thanks to one kind bookseller’s gift of an advance copy. A publishing frenzy has apparently occurred, if the New York Times is to be believed. Freedom was released on Tuesday and Franzen will be at the Union Square Barnes and Noble on Wednesday to discuss the book, his career and hopefully, just how much hate mail he’s gotten from Oprah.

DATE: Wednesday, September 8th

TIME: 7pm

PLACE: Barnes & Noble Union Square (33 E. 17th St at Broadway)

PRICE: Free!