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Television

Oprah’s episode on ‘American Dirt’ will start streaming on Friday

Oprah’s book club episode
Author Jeanine Cummins, second from right, is interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in Tuscon, Ariz., for Oprah’s Book Club. Joining are authors Esther J. Cepeda, from left, Julissa Arce and Reyna Grande.
(Karen Ballard)

The “deep” discussion Oprah Winfrey promised on Jeanine Cummins’ buzzy migrant novel “American Dirt” is finally coming to a screen or phone near you.

The highly anticipated conversation among Winfrey, Cummins and others will begin streaming as a two-part episode of “Oprah’s Book Club” on Friday on Apple TV+, according to a Wednesday release.

“If you read the book there is no doubt you heard about the controversy around it,” said Winfrey in a clip of the show. “Many people in the Mexican and Latinx community have voiced strong criticism about this book,” she continued, adding that several authors asked her to rescind her selection of the contentious novel as her book club pick and addressing the social media backlash that followed.

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“I want you to know I have heard and understand the concerns,” she told her audience. “And today, what we’re going to do is lean into this conversation because for me, for 25 years on the Oprah show and now beyond, that is the only way I think we can actually gain an understanding.”

Part one of the episode features Winfrey moderating a “raw, revealing conversation” about the novel with Cummins and memoirist Reyna Grande, author Julissa Arce and columnist Esther Cepeda.

In part two, “Latinx people who saw themselves reflected in the book” share insights with the TV tycoon into “real-life migrant experiences,” according to the press release.

Audience members during the shooting of Oprah Winfrey’s two-part episode with “American Dirt” author Jeanine Cummins and others.
Audience members during the shooting of Oprah Winfrey’s two-part episode with “American Dirt” author Jeanine Cummins and others.
(Karen Ballard / OWN Communications)

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In the opening of the episode’s one-minute trailer, Cummins sits across from Winfrey, visibly uncomfortable. “You resisted because you thought you were the wrong color,” Winfrey says to the author.

In another scene, Arce leans towards Cummins and asks: “Who did you write this book for? Because it wasn’t a book for me.” Cepeda confronts Winfrey herself, bluntly asking the host about the backlash she received from promoting the book: “Oprah, was this a wake up call for you?”

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Luz Maria Garcini, left, and Oprah Winfrey at the U.S.-Mexico border in part two of the upcoming “Oprah’s Book Club” episode.
(Apple TV+)

The trailer then jumps to scenes of Winfrey at the border, talking to public-health scholar Luz Maria Garcini “about the trauma of coming to America.”

The video ends with Winfrey back in the studio with her audience, reflecting on the massive backlash “American Dirt” stirred up: “What this has done for me, is it has opened my eyes in ways that only books can do.”


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