January 17, 2006

Oprah’s power of promotion undimmed by Frey dispute

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oprah Winfrey's powers of promotion,
undimmed by a controversy over her endorsement of James Frey's
"A Million Little Pieces," worked a charm on her latest monthly
book selection on Tuesday, sending Elie Wiesel's "Night" to the
top of best-seller lists.

Winfrey chose "Night," a first-hand account of World War II
Nazi death camps, amid a literary storm over Frey's memoir,
parts of which were later found to be untrue.

"Night" knocked Frey's book off top spot on Amazon.com
after being picked on Monday as the latest choice for Oprah's
book club a day earlier. Frey's book was Winfrey's previous
pick in September.

Winfrey, whose endorsement on her television show and Web
site typically means millions of sales for the author,
acknowledged Wiesel may have used some literary license but
insisted that "Night" is still a memoir.

"Although some facts vary slightly from his own personal
and familial history, "Night" should be considered an
autobiography," Winfrey's Web site said.

Nobel Peace Prize-winner Wiesel, 77, said "Night," written
half a century ago, was a true account of the horror he
witnessed as a youth at Auschwitz and Buchenwald, where his
family were among millions killed by the Nazis.

Wiesel told The New York Times in an interview his book's
literary style has led some observers and critics to suggest it
is a novel.

"But it is not a novel at all. I know the difference. I
make a distinction between what I lived through and what I
imagined others to have lived through," The Times quoted him as

"Night" was originally written in Yiddish and first
published in Buenos Aires in 1956. Two years later, a
compressed, 127-page French version was published and in 1960,
the first English translation was published.

Winfrey became embroiled in the controversy earlier this
month surrounding Frey's "A Million Little Pieces" after the
author was accused of exaggerating parts of his memoir of
alcohol and drug-induced mayhem.

Winfrey defended Frey's book.

"Although some of the facts have been questioned, the
underlying message of redemption still resonates for me," she
said last week on Larry King Live.

"Night" is published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.