The Washington Post

‘Outlander’ on ‘Orange Is the New Black’

'Taystee loves Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander." Taystee loves Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander.”

Bestselling writer Diana Gabaldon receives a rousing recommendation in the finale of this season’s “Orange is the New Black.”

The Netflix prison show based on Piper Kerman’s memoir sports a number of literary allusions, but Gabaldon gets special mention in episode No. 13 around 1:04.

While Poussey (Samira Wiley) and ‘Taystee (Danielle Brooks) are working in the prison library, ‘Taystee spots an old favorite:

“Outlander!” she says, holding up a worn copy of Gabaldon’s 1991 debut novel. “You ever read this? Lady travels back in time to Scotland. . . . Hooks up with this big sexy outlaw type, and they be getting’ it day in and day out. Yo, it’s hot!”

‘Taystee acts out that description in a way few book reviewers could.

Gabaldon hasn’t had a chance to see the episode yet. She’s been too busy touring with her eighth major Outlander novel, “Written in My Own Heart’s Blood,” released June 10. But she says she’s already heard about her book’s cameo “from several hundred people.”

Conversations like the one between ‘Taystee and Poussey have long been the key to success for this immensely popular writer. From an airplane circling Philadelphia, Gabaldon tells me, “My first editor always said, ‘These books have to be word-of-mouth books because they’re too weird to describe to anybody.’ Evidently, she was right.”

“Written in My Own Heart’s Blood” debuts this week at No. 1 on the independent bookstore bestseller list.

And if ‘Taystee has cable in prison, she’s in for a treat. Fans can look forward to a whole lot more of Gabaldon on TV. A new series based on “Outlander” will begin on the Starz network on Aug. 9.

Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.



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