Anthony Ray Hinton, wrongly imprisoned for nearly 30 years, can hardly believe how his luck has changed. Hinton's memoir, The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row, is Oprah Winfrey's latest book club pick, a dream for virtually any writer and beyond the imagination of a man who was once confined to a 5-by-7-foot cell. Tuesday's announcement comes three years after Hinton's release from Jefferson County Jail in Birmingham, Ala.. He'd been convicted for two 1985 murders in Birmingham, where the 61-year-old still lives. Hinton, during an interview with the AP, called Winfrey's endorsement "the second biggest surprise" of his life. The biggest surprise: "being charged with a crime I didn't commit." Published in March, Hinton's book tells of his conviction for killing two fast-food restaurant workers during separate robberies, and his decades spent on death row.
His efforts to overturn the conviction reached the Supreme Court, which in 2014 unanimously ruled he'd been denied a fair trial. Hinton was freed after new ballistics tests contradicted the only evidence—an analysis of crime-scene bullets—that connected him to the slayings. When he finally got out, the words he spoke to loved ones—"The sun does shine"—became his book's title. In a promo, Winfrey noted most of her picks over the past 20 years have been works of fiction but that The Sun Does Shine was a worthy exception. "This story reads like an epic novel and it is all true," Winfrey said. "You will, throughout the book, try to imagine yourself—falsely accused, and in a 5-by-7 cell for 30 years. He is a remarkable storyteller, and when you read it you'll be swept away." Winfrey's interview with Hinton airs Sunday on OWN; her O magazine will highlight the book in its July issue. (Read more Oprah Winfrey stories.)