Criticism of 'American Dirt' book review causes Oprah to re-think her March pick for 'Oprah's Book Club'

Oprah's Book Club
Oprah's Book Club (Image credit: Apple TV+)

What you need to know

  • Oprah had chosen to review "My Dark Vanessa" on "Oprah's Book Club".
  • After criticism for a recent pick, she has decided to ditch the review.
  • A new book will be chosen.

After coming in for criticism about her decision to review "American Dirt" for "Oprah's Book Club," Oprah has decided to re-think the book she chose to review in March. "My Dark Vanessa" is no longer the pick after the book also came in for some controversy of its own.

A Variety report claims Oprah wanted to be more mindful of the books she chose because of the way her show can have such an impact on the conversation surrounding books.

Sources with knowledge of Winfrey's thinking say that going forward, the prolific host and producer is looking to be more mindful that her book club selection seal approval has the potential to create noise around a book that might drown out the discussion of the book itself.

But what makes "My Dark Vanessa" controversial? The report notes that it has been embroiled in a plagiarism row with one author saying that it''s very similar to a story they wrote years ago.

"My Dark Vanessa" centers around a fifteen-year-old girl who becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher. The novel has been subject to criticism online, notably from author Wendy Ortiz, whose 2014 memoir "Excavation" had a similar plot to Russell's novel, only with a Latinx character at the heart of it."can't wait until February when a white woman's book of fiction that sounds very much like 'Excavation' is lauded," Ortiz tweeted earlier this year.

The publisher of "My Dark Vanessa" is understandably not a fan of the decision to pull it from "Oprah's Book Club," saying it is "disappointed" by the move.

"Yes, 'My Dark Vanessa' had been selected by Oprah's Book Club for March but unfortunately it is no longer a pick. We are disappointed by their decision but thrilled to see the incredible response from early readers. From the #1 LibraryReads librarian pick to the #1 IndieNext bookseller pick, to Amazon and Apple best of the month selections, retailer support remains strong. The early critical and media reception has been enormously positive and we can't wait for everyone to discover this powerful novel for themselves," read a statement from a William Morrow spokesperson.

Controversy about the latest episode of Oprah's Apple TV+ show continues, with "American Dirt" continuing to divide opinion.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.