The Oprah Effect on Morrison’s Fiction

My paper will explore the relationship between Oprah Winfrey and Toni Morrison, especially her Book Club endorsement of four of Morrison’s novels, more than any other author. I will argue that Oprah’s repeated and sustained endorsements of Morrison in her Book Club subvert the usual “prices of admission” into conversations about high, or serious, literature, creating a vast subgenre of Morrison readers who oppose the characteristics of the perceived Morrison reader as studied, academic and critical. We might further break out these reading audiences into “readers who read Morrison” and “readers who read Winfrey.” That is, Winfrey’s status as a “human brand” translates directly into the material book object of the Book Club editions of Morrison’s novels, creating an artifact that cuts across social stratums, a “high” novel clothed in mass media glitz. 

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