Fiction needs all the big mouth friends it can get, so pleased I am indeed that Oprah Winfrey is going to feature works by contemporary writers again. Now, I'm no fan of her often melodramatic and always glurgy talk show, but she's put some pretty strong titles in the limelight in the past, including works by Toni Morrison, Wally Lamb and Anita Shreve. And her endorsement means that these works are also thrust before the Malaysian reading public. We all like to be told what's good to read - no shame in that.
My own particular debt of gratitude to Oprah is that without her book club, I probably never would have heard of one of my favourite books - Bernhard Schlink's The Reader.
Oprah stopped featuring contemporary titles after a spat with Jonathan Franzen (author of The Corrections, a novel I very much enjoyed) in 2002.
She then decided that dead authors were a safer bet, since they couldn't talk back. But the classic titles she chose did not generate the same enthusiasm, and readers lobbied for contemporary fiction to be put back on the menu. She's now featuring A Million Little Pieces by James Frey.
Do check out Oprah's website for some interesting discussion of some very good reads.