restricted access Beware the Furrow of the Middlebrow: Searching for Paradise on The Oprah Winfrey Show

This article examines Winfrey's book club discussion of Toni Morrison's Paradise in order to identify various continuities and gaps between the aspirations of serious literature and the inclinations of middlebrow readers. Many of Winfrey's audience members complain about the text's inaccessibility, thus casting doubt upon Morrison's purported aim: to redefine paradise as a state of inclusivity. Nevertheless, even as they contest the novel's literary value, the participants engage in just the sort of egalitarian and rigorous conversation Morrison sees as an indispensable part of any constructive utopian politics.