Oprah's Latest Book Club Pick Is Isabel Wilkerson's Caste: 'A New Way of Seeing Racial Inequality'

Illustration for article titled Oprah's Latest Book Club Pick Is Isabel Wilkerson's Caste: 'A New Way of Seeing Racial Inequality'
Screenshot: Random House Publishing Group, Photo: OWN

“This might be the most important book I’ve ever chosen for my book club,” said Oprah Winfrey of Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. The latest from the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of The Warmth of Other Suns was released on Tuesday on Apple Books, among other booksellers.


The highly anticipated release was accompanied by the news that perhaps the world’s most famous book lover (and promoter) had chosen the already acclaimed work as her newest Oprah’s Book Club pick and would be promoting it via her partnership with Apple. According to a release, along with narrating an exclusive excerpt in a new video and hosting a free and exclusive conversation with Wilkerson this fall on Apple TV+, Winfrey will also be the first-ever guest editor for Apple News, presenting a curated collection of related and relevant articles.

“I am honored and thrilled that Caste has been chosen for Oprah’s Book Club and that its humanitarian insights will now reach a wider audience,” said Wilkerson, explaining that her newest work “shows that the term “racism” may be insufficient in our current era. We need new language, a new framework for understanding our divisions and how we got to where we are. Caste gives us this language. Caste allows us to see ourselves through a different lens and the chance to work toward healing from the wounds of artificial hierarchy. We must first see it to begin to resolve it.”

Publisher Penguin Random House describes Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents as “a masterful portrait of the unspoken caste system that has shaped America” (h/t Apple) A synopsis reads:

Drawing parallels between the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson outlines a revolutionary framework for understanding how caste plays out across civilizations, both historically and today. Backed by years of research, she identifies eight ideological pillars that underlie all caste systems. Using riveting stories from the lives of Martin Luther King Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, an ordinary single father and his toddler son, and many others, Wilkerson shows how the insidious undertow of caste is experienced by each of us every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their debasement of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.

In addition to her upcoming content on Caste, Oprah’s Book Club devotees can enjoy the media maven’s ongoing series for free exclusively on Apple TV+, “where they can watch all of Winfrey’s discussions with Book Club authors,” says the release. There will also be a “Caste” discussion guide available on Apple Books “to help host their own conversations around the book and the important issues it explores.” As part of Caste’s curated content, next week, Apple Music will broadcast an interview between their Beats 1 host Ebro Darden and Wilkerson “about how her book is reflective of the times.”

Illustration for article titled Oprah's Latest Book Club Pick Is Isabel Wilkerson's Caste: 'A New Way of Seeing Racial Inequality'
Image: Apple

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents provides a new way of seeing racial inequality,” says Winfrey, “giving rise to countless aha moments and helping us truly understand America as it is now and how we hope it will be.”

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is available in multiple formats at Apple Books and booksellers everywhere now.


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Maiysha Kai is managing editor of The Glow Up, host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast and Big Beauty Tuesdays, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. May I borrow some sugar?



The Warmth of Other Suns is one of the best books I’ve ever read. As much as I appreciate the attention Oprah can bring, now I know why I’m 111 on the library’s waiting list for Caste.