Winfrey picks ‘Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois’ for book club

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This combination of photos released by Harper shows cover art for “The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois,” left, and a portrait of author Honorée Fanonne Jeffers.The book is an Oprah Winfrey book club pick. (Harper via AP, left, and Sydney A. Foster/Harper via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — One of the year’s most anticipated debut novels, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers’ “The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois,” is now an Oprah Winfrey book club pick.

Published Tuesday, Jeffers’ novel traces centuries of Black history through a family in the American South and its contemporary narrator, young Ailey Paul Garfield. “The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois,” named for the canonical Black scholar and activist, has received advance praise from Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson and Stephanie Powell Watts among others.

“I was so enraptured by the story of this modern Black family, and how author Honorée Fanonne Jeffers wove the larger fabric of historical trauma through the family’s silence through generations,” Winfrey said in a statement. “It’s a combination of historical and modern and it consumed me. I look forward to discussing with our community of readers and speaking with Honorée herself to discuss the themes that run throughout this special novel.”

Tuesday’s announcement continues Winfrey’s history of selecting debut fiction; herprevious book club choice was Nathan Harris’ “The Sweetness of Water.”

Jeffers, 54, is already an acclaimed poet whose “The Age of Phillis” was on the long list in 2020 for a National Book Award. A professor of English at the University of Oklahoma, she has championed the stories and achievements of Black women, including Winfrey.

“I first encountered the beauty, brilliance, and empathy of Ms. Oprah Winfrey from afar, by watching her talk show on my television in the 1980′s,” Jeffers said in a statement. “She made me believe that so many great things were possible for a young, African American woman like me. That I could do anything if I just set my hands, mind, and spirit to the task. As a creative writer, it was my secret dream that I would one day write a book that this ‘phenomenal woman’ — to quote from the great poet, Dr. Maya Angelou — would read, enjoy, and present to the members of her book club.”

Winfrey founded her book club in 1996 and has partnered with Apple since 2019. Her interview with Jeffers will air Sept. 24 on Apple TV+.

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