The Tournament of Books: a blog post (you knew it was coming)

I blog about The Morning News’s Tournament of Books every year.  There’s been little evidence that anyone cares very deeply, but I do. So I’ll keep doing it!

The tournament is a March Madness style head to head of books from the past year. It’s usually 15 literary novels and one outlier—one year it was a YA novel, another year they had something more commercial. This year they have Anne Carlson’s poetry collection/scrapbook/objet d’art Nox. Whatever you want to call it, it’s beautiful. And it doesn’t have a chance of winning.

The real question this year is whether Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom will go the distance or whether it will be trounced in a backlash. As someone who liked it considerably less than The Corrections but still admires Franzen’s phenomenal skill as a writer, I’m completely okay with it going either way. The books I’m rooting for are my two favorite novels of last year: Room by Emma Donoghue and A Visit from the Goon Squad by the incomparable Jennifer Egan.

Again this year, I conned the DGLM bookclub into reading titles from the tournament, randomly selected from a hat. Miriam is deeply bitter about getting Lord of Misrule. Prediction: she’ll hate it. I ended up choosing James Hynes’ Next. Halfway through, I’m falling very, very hard for it. I can only hope that it sustains itself at the level of grace, insight, and humor it has shown so far.

I’m also pleased that someone is doing a contest for folks to predict the outcome. You can enter here.  I’m personally not predicting many spoilers in the first half of the contest. I get much nervier with the right side of the bracket when I predict Super Sad True Love Story gets knocked out super-fast. Of course, that’s because I’ve read (or tried to read) each of Gary Shteyngart’s novels and deeply disliked each one in new and exciting ways.

So join me in following the tournament this year? It’s good fun, I promise. It doesn’t take itself seriously, and it’s ultimately a bunch of nerds talking about books and presenting an award in the process. These are a few of my favorite things…

5 Responses to The Tournament of Books: a blog post (you knew it was coming)

  1. Oh, this is the coolest. I’m rooting for Room, Super Sad True Love Story, and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.

  2. Kerry says:

    Thank you for the link.

    This is a very interesting blog. I enjoy reading about the business/agent side of the publishing business, so I will be returning. I haven’t read much of the back catalog (so to speak) yet, but loved the post on the “myth of the right book cover.”

    I am looking forward to a fun Tournament and (hopefully) judges who have read the books!


  3. Jim says:

    My dream is to be invited to join the tournament as the first agent judge. It’s there on my list of unlikely, yet attainable goals like being invited to the Oscars and learning glassblowing.

    Thanks for dropping by Kerry. I’ll be the lowest scorer in your contest, though at least I got the first point right!

    • Kerry says:

      I hate to break it to you, but I think the person who has Kapitoil marching through the first three rounds is looking like the rearguard at the moment.

      I like your dream. It is a worthy one. Slightly more attainable than the Oscar invite, slightly less so than the glassblowing. Good luck!

  4. I vote for ROOM. I couldn’t eat while reading it. I literally had to choose between reading and eating my sandwich at lunch. It’s that painful.
    BTW- I read, of course.

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