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Oprah Winfrey chooses new Verghese novel for her book club


AP National Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — The long-awaited new novel by Abraham Verghese, “The Covenant of Water,” is Oprah Winfrey’s latest book club pick.

“The Covenant of Water,” published Tuesday, is Verghese’s first work of fiction since his million-selling “Cutting for Stone” came out in 2009. Verghese’s current book is a multigenerational saga set in India from 1900-1977.

“This is one of the top five books I’ve read in my lifetime. And I’ve been reading since I was 3,” Winfrey said in a statement. “It’s epic. It’s transportive. Many moments during the read I had to stop and remember to breathe. I couldn’t put the book down until the very last page — it was unputdownable!”

Verghese said in a statement that receiving the call from Winfrey, the dream of countless authors, felt like a “miracle.”

“My thoughts were racing back through the decade-plus of writing ‘The Covenant of Water,’ during which time my mother died, and Covid had descended on us,” he said. “After we hung up I realized that I’d reflexively risen to my feet and stayed that way throughout our long chat.”

Verghese, 67, is an Ethiopian-born physician who has also written two memoirs. He received a National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama in 2015, and was praised during the White House ceremony for a “range of proficiency” that extends from “his efforts to emphasize empathy in medicine, to his imaginative renderings of the human drama.”

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