Two weeks from now we’re kicking off our first Rooster Summer Reading Challenge. It’s a book club with a Tournament of Books twist, and we hope you’ll join us.
Together we’ll read two ToB-worthy books a month over the course of the summer, beginning with our June matchup:
Ill Will by Dan Chaon (UPDATE: We’re now reading A Separation by Katie Kitamura in June, and saving Ill Will for July; more about why below) and The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge. The whole thing gets rolling on May 31, and then we’ll reconvene to discuss the books every Wednesday thereafter, from June 7 to Aug. 30.
You can expect to see a more detailed reading schedule soon, but for now you should plan on finishing
Ill Will A Separation first, and then move onto The Night Ocean. Be sure to pick up your copies soon so you can get reading!
Every month we’ll also be joined in our Wednesday meet-ups by a different judge, who will read the two novels along with us and offer their thoughts as we progress through the books. For June we’re welcoming novelist (and 2015 ToB judge) Victor LaValle, whose new book, The Changeling, is forthcoming on June 13. Joining him in conversation will be the ToB’s own Rosecrans Baldwin, whose next novel, The Last Kid Left, hits shelves June 6.
Each month’s book matchup pits a novel chosen by one of our summer judges against a contender selected by the ToB staff. (To avoid favoritism, judges will not be assigned to read their own selections.)
At the end of every month our judge will decide which of the month’s two competitors will head to the summer final. And in our final meet-up on Aug. 30, you—our readers—will vote to decide which of the three winners will be crowned our summer champion, and receive an automatic entry into the 2018 Tournament of Books.
Why we’re changing out the June books
We’re making the switch for a couple of reasons. One is because we want to ensure diversity among all our summer matches. It’s important to us personally, it’s important to everything we all hope for and love about the ToB, and it was, simply, our mistake. We already had a pretty clear idea of all the novels we wanted to feature in the Summer Reading Challenge, including A Separation, but then during some last-minute rejiggering of the pairings and the judges’ assigned months, we lost that diversity and stacked our June matchup with white males.
Additionally, we learned from Victor, our June judge, that he’d previously blurbed Ill Will, and as per Rooster bylaws, we want to avoid, whenever possible, any conflicts of interest.