NEW YORK – Oprah Winfrey went for the big time Wednesday with her latest book club pick, choosing Ken Follett's 973-page "The Pillars of the Earth," an announcement that will likely mean hundreds of thousands more sales for an author with a huge, international following.
Winfrey, whose TV talk show airs from Chicago, called Follett "a best-selling author that everybody has heard of, but this novel is unlike any of his books he's known for around the world."
Follett, a 58-year-old native of Cardiff, Wales, is famous for spectacular thrillers such as "Lie Down With Lions," "Eye of the Needle" and "World Without End," published last month, and a sequel to "The Pillars of the Earth," which came out in 1989.
Follett has called "The Pillars of the Earth," a love story set in England in the 12th century, his favorite novel. According to his Web site, the book still sells around 100,000 copies a year in the United States alone.
"My publishers were a little nervous about such a very unlikely subject but paradoxically, it is my most popular book," Follett writes on his Web site.
"It's also the book I'm most proud of. It recreates, quite vividly, the entire life of the village and the people who live there. You feel you know the place and the people as intimately as if you yourself were living there in the middle ages."
A year after "Pillars" came out, Follett was so popular he agreed to a two-book, $12.3 million deal with the Dell Publishing Co. He reportedly has 90 million readers worldwide and recently signed with Penguin Group (USA), which released "World Without End," for a planned multigenerational trilogy set in the 20th century.