Tournament of Books 2017

So I’ve been both busy and sick this year and somehow, it wasn’t until I was looking up reviews after I posted my own review of Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton that I noticed that that this year’s Tournament of Books is already over and Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad won a very impressive victory. The ToB is one of the most entertaining and unique items in the Book event calendar. A literary March madness: in 5 brackets a selection of recent books are pitted against each other and a judge picks the winner in each bracket. The championship round then unites all the judges as the book with the most votes takes home the trophy.  The great advantage (and sometimes source of frustration) is that it is absolutely the luck of the draw, not just who you encounter in your bracket, but also what kind of judge is asked to render judgment on any given bracket. Thus, due to idiocy, a few years ago, Kathryn Stockett’s The Help beat out John Wray’s masterful Lowboy. This year, in the most spectacular bit of idiocy yet, All the Birds in the Sky beat Han Kang’s The Vegetarian.  More details on the way the tournament works here. For the second time in several years, I actually reviewed one or two of the books in the tournament. I have linked them in the list of the brackets below. Ok. Here you go, the brackets of this year’s ToB:

Judge: Kirstin Butler
The Underground Railroad
v. Black Wave

Judge: V.V. Ganeshananthan
The Vegetarian
v. All the Birds in the Sky

Judge: Steph Cha
My Name Is Lucy Barton
v. Version Control

Judge: Susannah Cahalan
The Mothers
v. High Dive

Judge: Will Chancellor
Moonglow
v. Grief Is the Thing With Feathers

Judge: Caille Millner
Homegoing
v. Sweet Lamb of Heaven

Judge: Lili Loofbourow
The Nix
v. We Love You, Charlie Freeman

Judge: Pamela Ribon
Sudden Death
v. Mister Monkey

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Tournament of Books 2016

Last night, reader emailed me (and so can you) that this year’s Tournament of Books is under way. The ToB is one of the most entertaining and unique items in the Book event calendar. A literary March madness: in 5 brackets a selection of recent books (mostly novels although I’ve also seen story collections nominated and there’s poetry in the bracket this year, I think?) are pitted against each other and a judge (from book journalists to novelists like Jeff Vandermeer and Celeste Ng) picks the winner in each bracket. The championship round then unites all the judges as the book with the most votes takes home the trophy.  The great advantage (and sometimes source of frustration) is that it is absolutely the luck of the draw, not just who you encounter in your bracket, but also what kind of judge is asked to render judgment on any given bracket. Thus, due to idiocy, a few years ago, Kathryn Stockett’s The Help beat out John Wray’s masterful Lowboy. More details on the way the tournament works here. For the first time in several years, I actually reviewed one or two of the books in the tournament. I have linked them in the list of the brackets below. Interestingly, I have mentioned a different Paul Beatty novel in the Oreo review yesterday, and I’ll link my Luiselli review although the book in the tournament is actually the Mexican novelist’s sophomore effort. Ok. Here you go, the brackets of this year’s ToB:

Fates and Furies
v. Bats of the Republic
judge: Maria Bustillos

The Sympathizer
v. Oreo
judge: Brad Listi

The Turner House
v. Ban en Banlieue
judge: Miriam Tuliao

Our Souls at Night
v. The Whites
Judge: Syreeta McFadden

A Little Life
v. The New World
judge: Choire Sicha

The Book of Aron
v. The Tsar of Love and Techno
judge: Doree Shafrir

A Spool of Blue Thread
v. The Story of My Teeth
judge: Daniel Wallace

The Sellout
v. The Invaders
judge: Liz Lopatto