Welcome to The Morning News Tournament of Books, 2017 edition.
- Our championship match is decided in the Tournament of Books, with news of a Rooster surprise debuting this summer. Updated Mar 31, 2017 ago
- In Thursday's action, Reyhan Harmanci sets up a colossal final.
- The Zombie round opens with Buzzfeed's Isaac Fitzgerald reading The Nix and The Underground Railroad.
Mar 30, 2017
Both [novels] put a lot of stock in the totemic power of dreams; both grapple with gender and power, and the limits of autonomy in “civilized” cultures. At times, for different reasons, I had to turn away from the pages. Shit gets raw.↩︎ The Tournament of Books
Mar 28, 2017
In an interview, Gyasi said she made sure to keep each chapter around 25 or 30 pages—and that she was never really tempted to break this rule—but there’s no such economy in The Nix’s logorrheic prose, which coils and spins at least three or four distinct novels into one singular story.↩︎ The Tournament of Books
Mar 23, 2017
If Grief Is the Thing With Feathers makes the personal private, Homegoing makes the public personal.↩︎ The Tournament of Books
Personal conflicts in the week so far at the Tournament of Books.
On Tuesday, Bim Adewunmi was forced to decide between The Underground Railroad and All the Birds in the Sky.
I loved both books so much, and in such different ways, that it felt like picking between a banana and a plantain: Both are delicious and nutritious, and both look very similar from a distance, but they are two very different beasts, and they generate very different reactions in my core. It’s been a difficult few months, sorry.
Today, Wednesday, ToB Reader Judge Tim Rinehart finds personal connections with The Mothers and Version Control.
My world right now is powerless, confused, and illusory. Scientists are planning protest marches. There are no time machines.
Mar 22, 2017
Jane would have been in her teens when she wrote these fake marriage entries, and some could say it reveals a mischievous side during her younger years.↩︎ BBC
Mar 20, 2017
I am well aware that I am not well-schooled enough to appreciate this novel.↩︎ The Tournament of Books
Mar 16, 2017
Sweet Lamb of Heaven by Lydia Millet is part literary novel and part psychological thriller. It’s a quiet, ominous book, confined to the mind of its heroine and full of questions about resolutely unhip matters like the meaning of existence.↩︎ The Tournament of Books
The week so far in the Tournament of Books: genre debates, politics not-as-usual, and a highly personal reading of dust jackets.
Here's the round-up so far: Monday saw Steph Cha debating genre and style and sheer entertainment while reading My Name Is Lucy Barton and Version Control.
One of the nice things about fiction is that it keeps us away from that particular abyss as a side effect of the search for beauty and meaning. Also, sometimes, it’s straight-up about alternate realities accessible through rifts in the space time continuum.
Then on Tuesday the commetariat got heated around Susannah Calahan's verdict when deciding between The Mothers and High Dive.
I had too much fun reading—OK, maybe “fun” isn’t the perfect word to describe novels about abortion and terrorism, but how else to explain the pure joy in reading, or rather the wish to distill both books down to their essences and inject them into your bloodstream so that you too could write like these two?
Today, Wednesday, former ToB contender Will Chancellor weighs in with certainly one of the more creative responses we've seen before from a judge; already the comments are giving him high marks.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay was the first contemporary novel I fell in love with, and it sketched out what I wanted in my fiction from that point on: international intrigue, linguistic shamanism, and Salvador Dalí in a brass diving helmet. I can only remember finding one flaw in Kavalier and Clay—and it pissed me off to no end. The back flap included the following note about our author: “He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Ayelet Waldman, also a novelist, and their children.” I immediately wished I could unread that. Why foreclose the possibility that I was reading a gay writer describe Sam Clay’s sore fingertips in his lover’s mouth? I understand, theoretically, being in a happy marriage and wanting to celebrate that in print. But get it off my dust jacket, man!
We hope you're enjoying the show!
Mar 15, 2017
The truth is, there is no “proper” subject for poetry. All of life is its subject. Nothing should be out of bounds.↩︎ The Guardian
Day three of the Rooster tests literary fiction against genre: Han Kang’s The Vegetarian and Charlie Jane Anders’s All the Birds in the Sky.
For Friday's bout in the Tournament of Books, novelist V.V. Ganeshananthan compares Han Kang’s The Vegetarian and Charlie Jane Anders’s All the Birds in the Sky.
As a college student, I studied with a teacher who wanted me to buy and to use a garden guide as part of my writing habit. The book she recommended was beautifully illustrated—a gorgeous object. I happily carried it around and turned to it in green spaces. It was the first time I had really tried to look at nature with a more attentive gaze, to name what I was seeing, and to understand my relationship to it.
Mar 9, 2017
As allegories for our present go, pairing The Underground Railroad with Black Wave was a little obvious. Just the one—a popular juggernaut about white supremacy—or the other—a drug-fueled, one-way trip to the apocalypse—sure, fine. But both together?↩︎ The Tournament of Books
Opening day in the 2017 Tournament of Books features three "highbrow sports" titles.
The Tournament of Books begins today, with author and Rolling Stone sports editor Jason Diamond overseeing our "highbrow sports" play-in round: C. E. Morgan’s The Sport of Kings, Chris Bachelder's The Throwback Special, and Álvaro Enrigue’s Sudden Death.
Writing about a sport should never be just about a game. Sure, you need your daily recaps and breakdowns. Tell us why this trade will matter in the long run, or how a starting guard going down with an injury can actually benefit a team. But there’s always a deeper story there.
Check it out, say hi in the comments, and enjoy the show! It's going to be a great month.
Mar 8, 2017
It’s not really a contest. We’re not even sure it’s a “tournament.” What the ToB has been and will be, as long as we’re putting it on, is a month-long conversation about novels and reading and writing and art that takes place on weekdays in March.↩︎ The Tournament of Books
The Editors' Longreads Picks
- An excellent essay on poverty and writing by Starr Davis. Updated May 31, 2022
- Novelist Héctor Tobar tries to understand the 1992 Los Angeles riots through the experiences of a single high school.
- Steven Johnson with a long assessment of the current state of A.I. and language. (The illusion has gotten very good.)
Все ваши Белый дом принадлежит нам.
- "Will Putin expose the failings of American democracy or will he inadvertently expose the strength of American democracy?" Updated Mar 3, 2017
- Wilbur Ross just wanted to make some money in ethically gray areas (that should've prevented him from taking office).
- Jeff Sessions's spokeswoman can't help but continue to lie.
The oceans are under assault, and not just from the White House and friends.
- Trump's assault on the environment begins with American headwaters. Updated Mar 1, 2017
- Don't just blame the oil companies for destroying the oceans—blame sushi restaurants.
- Nothing escapes the deepest trenches of the ocean floor. Not light, not nutrients, not pollutants.
The future of protein will not include animal meat.
- Crickets are your new favorite sustainable food source—but they may not have enough protein to feed us all. Updated Feb 28, 2017
- Attention, Earthlings: The fate of your planet hinges on the success of the Impossible Burger.
- Study finds that Subway's "chicken" meat is only half chicken.