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Thursday, 15 August, 2002, 11:15 GMT 12:15 UK
BBC launches global book club
Garrison Keillor
Garrison Keillor was chosen as the first author
A book club with a potential membership of 150 million readers has been launched by the BBC World Service.

Meridian Writing's World Book Club has begun recommending books for its listeners, with the opportunity to pose questions to the author.

American writer Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon Days is the first book to be chosen for discussion for the Meridian Writing's World Book Club discussion.

World Service listeners from around the world have been encouraged to read the novel about small-town American life and send in their questions and feelings about the book into the World Service.

Keillor himself launched the club at the Edinburgh International Book Festival at a question and answer forum chaired by programme presenter Harriett Gilbert.

Varied backgrounds

Lake Wobegon Days is described as a humorous look at a small US town that time forgot where people still leave their doors open.

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey's recommendations boosted book sales

Book clubs in the UK have seen a resurgence in recent years but are usually conducted in a small social group.

But the club hopes to entice millions of listeners from many different ethnic and religious backgrounds to read one book.

US television presenter Oprah Winfrey launched her own very successful book club on her daytime TV show several years ago to great success.

A recommendation from her virtually ensured a book became a best-seller and helped launch the careers of many little-known writers.

But she has now shelved the club after admitting she was struggling to find anything she felt compelled enough to endorse.

Impress

Forthcoming books to become the focus of the Meridian Writing club include Martin Amis' Money and Arundhati Roy's Booker-winning The God of Small Things.

Speaking about his involvement, Keillor said: "I'm very fond of the BBC World Service. It's a pillar of civilisation. And my wife, who suffers from insomnia, is a regular late-night listener.

"The World Service's recommendation of a book is sure to carry considerable weight with her. That's why I'm thrilled to be part of the book club. It isn't easy to impress my wife."

The discussion with Garrison Keillor is to be aired on 25 September.

See also:

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