When Oprah Winfrey talks, people listen. And when she chooses books for her book club, people read them. The “Oprah effect” has helped authors like Tayari Jones and Colson Whitehead become household names and convinced people to go back and give some of the books they should have read in their high school English classes another chance. This time, the queen of talk has chosen Leila Mottley’s novel “Nightcrawling” as her latest book club pick. At 19-years-old, Motley is the youngest author to have her work featured as an Oprah’s Book Club pick.
“It brings me great joy to introduce readers to new authors, and this young poet Leila Mottley wrote a soul-searching portrait of survival and hope,” Winfrey said in a statement Tuesday.
“Nightcrawling” is narrated by Kiara, a teenager who is struggling to get by in East Oakland, CA after she and her brother have dropped out of high school. Without family, she stumbles into nightcrawling to pay the bills. And things get even more complicated when she becomes a key witness in a major scandal within the Oakland Police Department. The book has been receiving praise from across the literary world since it hit bookstore shelves on June 7. Kiese Laymon, author of “Heavy,” wrote, “Nightcrawling is a scorching, incredibly readable book that takes seriously the task of readerly provocation on every page. Get ready. Or don’t. It doesn’t matter. Leila Mottley is here.”
Mottley is a product of Oakland and was the city’s youth poet laureate in 2018. Learning that her debut novel would be the next Oprah’s Book Club pick was “the surprise of a lifetime!” she said.
Oprah’s Book Club launched in 1996 with Jacquelyn Mitchard’s “The Deep End of the Ocean.” Since that time, she has featured classics like “Sula” by Toni Morrison, “The Sweetness of Water,” the debut novel by Nathan Harris, and “Becoming,” a memoir written by former First Lady Michelle Obama. Each book is hand-picked by Ms. Winfrey herself. “Nightcrawling” is the 96th Book Club pick. Bookworms will get to learn more about Mottley and her book when she sits down with Oprah for an interactive book club event on OprahDaily.com on June 30.