A very stupid thing begins again. Credit: TMN.

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.

Our Zombie round closes in the ToB, with Reyhan Harmanci making the call, setting up a colossal final.
↩︎ The Tournament of Books
Mar 30, 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.

Tuesday's Rooster match sees Judge Aaron Bady choose between debut novels Homegoing and The Nix.
↩︎ The Tournament of Books
Mar 28, 2017

If Grief Is the Thing With Feathers makes the personal private, Homegoing makes the public personal.

Alliteration, playful crows, and much insight in Miranda Popkey's terrific assessment of Thursday's contenders.
↩︎ The Tournament of Books
Mar 23, 2017

Personal conflicts in the week so far at the Tournament of Books.

The Tournament of Books Staff

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.

The never-married Jane Austen turns out to have faked her own marriage twice.
↩︎ BBC
Mar 22, 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. 

Author Caille Millner decides between Sweet Lamb of Heaven and Homegoing.
↩︎ The Tournament of Books
Mar 16, 2017

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!

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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.

Meet Grindr's new poet-in-residence, Max Wallis.
↩︎ The Guardian
Mar 15, 2017

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 10, 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?

Day two of the ToB finds Kirstin Butler deciding between an indie hit and one of the biggest books of the year.
↩︎ The Tournament of Books
Mar 9, 2017

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.

In case you're new to this, here's a primer on how the Tournament of Books works.
↩︎ The Tournament of Books
Mar 8, 2017
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