David Wroblewski’s newest book “Familiaris” earns him his 2nd entry into Oprah’s Book Club

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Oprah Winfrey has announced her latest Book Club pick, “Familiaris,” by New York Times bestselling author David Wroblewski. Published by Blackstone Publishing, the book is a follow-up to Wroblewski’s acclaimed novel, “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.”

“David takes us on an extraordinary journey that brilliantly interweaves history, philosophy, adventure and mysticism to explore the meaning of love, friendship and living your life’s true purpose,” Winfrey told “CBS Mornings.”

“Familiaris” follows Edgar Sawtelle’s grandfather, John Sawtelle, his new wife, Mary, and their friends and dogs as they start a life together in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

Fans may remember that Winfrey selected “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” as one of her picks back in 2008, highlighting her long-standing admiration for Wroblewski’s work.

Wroblewski said he did not expect to be picked for a second time, saying he was floored in 2008 when he was picked, but shocked to be selected a second time, comparing it to being struck by “the best kind of lightning” twice.

“I just didn’t expect this to happen twice. What a privilege,” he said.

While writing “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle,” Wroblewski found the character of Edgar’s grandfather demanding a larger role, which led him to eventually write “Familiaris,” 15 years later. The new book delves into the character’s background and life, exploring themes of love, adventure, and the bonds between people and their canine best friends.

Wroblewski said his experiences growing up on a farm in Wisconsin influenced his writing. He used his family’s farm as a setting for the novel, although he relocated it 100 miles north and exaggerated its qualities to suit the story.

“The barn in this story and the barn in Edgar are the same. That’s the barn I remember crawling around in as a little kid. And the house is a variant of the house that I grew up in,” Wroblewski said.

“Familiaris” is structured around what Wroblewski calls the “five great quests” of John Sawtelle’s life, covering 40 years without following a strict chronological order.

A central theme of “Familiaris” is love and the title reflects this dual focus on family and dogs. The word “Familiaris” comes from the Latin name for dog — canis familiaris — and also embeds the concept of family.

When asked about the appearance of the Sawtelle dogs, Wroblewski said he prefers to leave that to the readers’ imagination. 

“I want readers to be able to imagine how the dogs look themselves,” he said.


Find questions, discussion topics and other materials to enhance your group’s conversation about “Familiaris” by David Wroblewski in this discussion guide.

Read an excerpt from Chapter 2, titled “Beneath the Wheels of the Mistake Train,” here.



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