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Oprah's new book pick: 'The Story of Edgar Sawtelle'

September 19, 2008 | 11:45 am


Today Oprah announced her new Book Club selection: "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" by first-time novelist David Wroblewski.

In our review of the book this summer, Jonathan Kirsch wrote:

To call "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" a tale of a boy and his dog would be accurate, but it is hardly sufficient. Indeed, David Wroblewski's first novel is an audacious retelling of "Hamlet" set on a farmstead in the rural Midwest, a pastiche in which dog breeders, veterinarians, cops and even puppies are made to play the familiar roles from Shakespeare's greatest play. Remarkably, Wroblewski brings it off with flair.

It is, Kirsch continues, "an authentic epic, long and lush, full of back story and observed detail." Wroblewski, who doesn't reveal his age in interviews, says he worked in software development for 25 years; it's been reported that the book took him 10 years to write.

On Oprah Winfrey's website, Wroblewski says he is "proud and excited" that "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" is her book club selection. And he encourages readers to appreciate the book's ambiguities:

While it's true that I love talking about Edgar's story, I've also found myself admitting that I don't want — and don't have — any final answers, any overarching, ambiguity-smashing point of view. Writing a novel may not absolutely require losing perspective, but I nonetheless have. Edgar, Almondine and the people in their world feel as real to me as anyone I have ever known, and thus, by turns transparent, inexplicable and fascinating. It is as true for the writer as for the reader that any novel worth its ink should be an experience first and foremost....

The book had already been lauded in "Oprah" magazine, and some publishing industry insiders had guessed it might be the next Book Club selection. Already a bestseller, sales are expected to climb further; according to the New York Daily News, Oprah's Book Club has 2 million members.

— Carolyn Kellogg

David Worblewski photo by Marion Ettlinger