Every year, I eagerly anticipate the arrival of The Tournament of Books over on The Morning News. It’s a bracket-style competition to select the best novel of the previous year. Wonderfully, unlike any other award system, it is completely transparent, acknowledges exactly how silly it is to give out awards, offers a running commentary of the judging process, and is one of the only places on the entire internet where the comments section is filled with intelligent, thoughtful, considered feedback. It’s basically Internet Utopia: where smart people freely exchange opinions about books, dissent is welcomed, and everyone is a reader.
For the past few years, I’ve entered to try to become the special guest judge. I keep trying to convince them that the perspective of someone in the biz could be a unique one in the tournament. They don’t seem to believe me any more than I believe myself. I still think it would be fun to take part.
Almost as good as taking part? Knowing someone else who is! This year, DGLM’s own author Tayari Jones will be one of the judges. Tayari’s first novel, LEAVING ATLANTA, was one of the first things I read after being hired full time a dozen or so years ago, and I still have the loveliest memories of reading it while weeping quietly at my desk. It’s just a good thing she’s not one of my personal clients since I would probably harass her for behind-the-scenes scoops the whole way through.
So with two months to go before the tournament kicks into gear, it’s a near foregone conclusion that anything Sharon Pelletier or I read for pleasure will be on the list of finalists. Happily, this year I’d already read six. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng and Adam by Ariel Schrag are my favorites so far. Time will tell how many others I might get to. The trouble with reading for a living is that you don’t always have much time to read NOT for a living.
Who has delved into the list? Who will follow along with me? Or better yet: who HATES one of the books on the list? I always like to hear folks grumble!