Oprah’s Book Club pick for March was recently dropped. My Dark Vanessa, the debut novel from Kate Elizabeth Russell, was already likely to do well—Russell had received a seven-figure advance and the book already has largely positive reviews, including blurbs from Stephen King and Gillian Flynn. But few things boost a book’s sales like a commendation from Oprah Winfrey, and so Russell’s publisher moved the book’s release date from January to March, to align with the book club recommendation.
However, thanks to a dispute on Twitter, the book will no longer be receiving Oprah’s stamp of approval. tells the story of a 15-year-old girl and her relationship with her English teacher, while the 2014 memoir Excavation, by Latinx author Wendy Ortiz, discusses her own relationship with her English teacher when she was in high school.
It was Ortiz herself who called out the Oprah’s Book Club pick, tweeting “[C]an’t wait until February when a white woman’s book of fiction that sounds very much like Excavation is lauded.” Though the tweet got relatively little traction and the controversy quickly subsided—Russell didn’t co-opt Ortiz’s memoir, and said the novel was based on events from her own life—it was enough to make Oprah’s Book Club drop the title.
Before , such a short-lived dispute on Twitter may not have been enough to dissuade Oprah from choosing the book. But as she stated in an AP News interview, she hopes to avoid backlash with future book picks, as the conversations surrounding American Dirt have “taken away my attention from why people want to read books.”