CHICAGO - Oprah Winfrey announced Friday she'd chosen David Wroblewski's "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" as her latest book club pick, calling the debut novel a classic and the "best novel I've read in a long, long, long time."
"I think this book is right up there with the greatest American novels ever written, I really do," said Winfrey at the end of "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Winfrey raved for several minutes about the novel, comparing it to the work of John Steinbeck and even, she said, Harper Lee, author of "To Kill a Mockingbird."
"I will say that, yes I said it," Winfrey said.
The novel is already one of the summer's hottest reads and is this week ranked ninth on The New York Times best-seller list. It is certain to get a lot hotter with one of the biggest boosts any book can get these days: a little sticker on the cover proclaiming "Edgar Sawtelle" as one of Winfrey's book club selections.
"When you read it you will understand why I had to choose it," Winfrey told her audience. "It is so engaging, so gripping, so epic that I wanted absolutely everybody to share the joy of the story of Edgar Sawtelle."
"Edgar Sawtelle," which Wroblewski worked on for about a decade, is the story of a mute boy who communicates best with his dogs. Wroblewski grew up in rural Wisconsin, the setting for his book, and now lives near Denver with his partner, writer Kimberly McClintock.
Wroblewski appeared via satellite on Friday's program, telling Winfrey from his home in Colorado about writing the book in restaurants and waiting areas and at picnic tables whenever he could, as he worked full-time as a software developer.
Wroblewski said he has been amazed by the reception the book, which he called a "very private project," has received, saying that he wasn't even sure he would find a publisher for it.
"I expected there would be a few readers out there who would connect with it, but what happened this summer was not on my radar at all," he said.
Winfrey, saying the book was part mystery, cautioned viewers to avoid reading the inside cover because she felt that gave away too much of the story.
Winfrey said that sometime in the next few months Wroblewski will take part in a live Q&A webcast session with her for the nearly 2 million members of her book club. A date hasn't been announced.
AP National Writer Hillel Italie contributed to this report.
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