Winfrey picks Nathan Hill's novel 'Wellness' for book club

NEW YORK (AP) — When she started her book club nearly 30 years ago, Oprah Winfrey would sometimes inform the authors by looking up their numbers in the phone book — when phone books were in common use — and calling them up.

For her latest pick, Winfrey broke the news to author Nathan Hill in modern style: She arranged with his publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, to pop up during a Zoom meeting and tell Hill that she had chosen his novel “Wellness,” a sweeping, 600-page narrative about an embattled married couple in Chicago .

In a video shared with The Associated Press, Hill is chatting with his publicist at Knopf about anticipation and promotion for “Wellness,” which comes out this week. A new box suddenly appears and there is Winfrey, holding Hill's novel in front of her.

“I have an idea, why not choose it for Oprah's book club?” she says.

"You're kidding," an astonished Hill responds.

“What. A. Book!” Winfrey tells him, adding that the novel made her nostalgic for Chicago, where she used to film her talk show. “You are an incredible writer for our times, what you are able to do with language, with your words. It's so powerful, so moving.”

“Wellness” is Winfrey's 102nd book club pick, and the first since she selected Abraham Verghese's “The Covenant of Water” in May. In announcing her selection Tuesday, Winfrey called Hill's book a "modern take on love, marriage, and society’s obsession on improving almost every aspect of our lives - and the impact technology and social media has on our culture and in our lives."

“This brilliant novel will leave you thinking about the truth of your own life and the stories we tell ourselves and each other," Winfrey added.

“Wellness" is Hill's first book since his acclaimed debut from 2016, “The Nix.” The story of a man's quest to learn more about his long-lost mother, “The Nix” received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for best first novel., the online hub of Winfrey's book club, will include additional detail about Hill and his work.

“Having Oprah Winfrey crash a Zoom meeting to tell me she’d picked my novel for her book club will go down as the greatest - and most surreal - shock of my life,” Hill said in a statement. “Thank you to Oprah for this amazing honor, and for championing authors for so many years. Her book club has been such a gift to readers, and includes some of my own literary idols. To be in such company is both humbling and heart-swelling.”