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14th January
written by Steph
This just in: The Morning News has revealed the contenders for the 2009 Tournament of Books.  For those of you not in the know, this is an annual tournament held by TMN in which some of the year's "best" books compete in a March Madness NCAA type fashion.  Two books face off each week, with the winner of that bout proceeding to the next round.  How do these battles go down?  Each week has a designated reader (generally an author or writer) who reads both books (in theory), and then declares a winner based on his or her own personal set of criteria.  Other than a penultimate Zombie round (in which previously voted fan favorites get a chance to rise again and do battle once more), in order to make it to the final round, a given book must beat each of its adversaries in each round in order to win the prize.  And what is the prize? Well, the author of the winning novel is sent a live rooster, so there's that.  But for you the reader, the whole tournament is a prize, because not only are the weekly commentaries both amusing and informative, but you get a fancy new reading list!  Past winners have been The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, The Accidental by Ali Smith (just barely...), and Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. As I said though, it's not just the overall winner of the tournament that necessarily shines in a contest such as this.  Indeed, one of my favourite reads of last year, Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris, was an entry (but not winner) in the tournament.  I came to the tourney late last year, and read about most of the books after their rounds had come and gone.  By the end, I read two of the books on the list, and I still enjoyed the whole thing.  But this year, I want to play along!  And I encourage you to do so too!  Here's the list of books that will duke it out: The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga 2666, Roberto Bolano A Partisan's Daughter, Louis de Bernieres The Northern Clemency, Philip Hensher The Lazarus Project, Aleksandar Hemon My Revolutions, Hari Kunzru Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, E. Lockhart Shadow Country, Peter Matthiessen The Dart League King, Keith Morris A Mercy, Toni Morrison Steer Towards Rock, Fae Myenne Ng Netherland, Joseph O'Neill City of Refuge, Tom Piazza Home, Marilynne Robinson Harry, Revised, Mark Sarvas Not too shabby, eh?  I, of course, have read a grand total of ZERO books on this list (I've heard of about 6 of them prior to this list being posted), but I'm going to try to read as many as I can get my hands on.  The ToB doesn't start until March, so there's still plenty of time to get started.  Five of the books I can get at the school library (so delightful with its 3 MONTH check-out period), and almost all of the others are available at the Nashville public library.  I trust the same will be true wherever you live, so give it a shot and join me in this, won't you?  For those of you who like to own all the books you read, Powell's sponsors the tournament, and is offering 30% off of all entrants.    I already have an idea of which of the books are potentially those to beat going into this thing, but I'm interested to see how well some of these past winners do in this more unconventional competition.  Also, I look forward to picking my own winner and seeing if it makes it through to the end! Thanks to the Girl Detective for the heads up on this one!


  1. taryn

    Hey bookophiles,
    You might also be interested in “Canada Reads”, which is a national competition on CBC radio hosted by Jian Ghomeshi. A panel of Cdn “celebrities” pick their favourite Cdn book, then face off against each other. At the end of each episode they vote, and one book is eliminated. It was pretty fun to listen to, as well as short, that’s all i really remember. And it’s probably even available in podcast! And Steph, it fulfills your entire CanCon requirement for the year 😉

  2. 01/15/2009

    Can I just say that I am so very excited about this?! And, like you, I’ve not read any of these books. I plan to get right on it!

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