The Morning News

The Morning News Tournament of Books, sponsored by Powell’s Books, is an annual battle royale amongst the top novels in “literary fiction” published throughout the year. Read more about this year’s tournament »

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The 2007 Tournament of Books is over. To view this year's Tournament, go here.


From the Booth

Arthur and George


One Good Turn


WARNER: One Good Turn is a sequel to Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories, which to my mind puts her at a distinct disadvantage in this face-off, given that with rare exceptions (Godfather II, AfterMASH), sequels are rarely as satisfying as the original. One Good Turn is more T2: Judgment Day than American Pie: Band Camp on the quality scale, but it’s still not as good as Case Histories because Case Histories gets to introduce us to Jackson Brodie (the moral and investigative center of both books), who is going to become one of the enduring characters of our culture, kind of like Stiffler’s mom.

GUILFOILE: I enjoyed Case Histories as well. Nevertheless, Arthur and George was my only horse in this race, as it’s the only book in this year’s tourney I’ve managed to read so far. And I liked it a lot. So, grrrr.

I discovered Barnes because almost 20 years ago I came to love Martin Amis. In college and the years just after, I tore through London Fields and Money and Success and Dead Babies and Time’s Arrow, and I just couldn’t imagine a better writer. As a 21-year-old aspiring novelist, reading London Fields was simultaneously one of the most exhilarating and dispiriting reading experiences I’ve ever had. I remember thinking, “This is awesome,” and also, “I could never do this.”

So I started reading Barnes because I heard he was a friend of Amis’s (or he was at the time). There really couldn’t be a more idiotic reason to pick up a book—it would be like reading Wilmer Valderrama’s novels because you so enjoyed Ashton Kutcher’s—but I sort of dug Barnes and kept picking him up. Over the last 10 years, though, Amis has disappointed me over and over (The Information was the last one I liked at all) and I think Barnes has just been consistently good, book after book after book, and every one different from the last. Maybe none of them are as good as London Fields, in my mind, but great nonetheless—Arthur and George included.

WARNER: Sorry, buddy, Arthur and George’s was a deli near my high school where we’d go for off-campus lunch junior and senior year. The tuna salad gave me salmonella once.

This one is a mismatch for Atkinson.

« Return to the judge’s decision for this match.

The Standings


• Round One •

Half of a Yellow Sun v. Absurdistan
judged by Brady Udall

The Echo Maker v. The Emperor’s Children
judged by Marcus Sakey

Firmin v. Brookland
judged by Sarah Hepola

The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo v. The Road
judged by Maria Schneider

Arthur and George v. One Good Turn
judged by Kate Schlegel

The Lay of the Land v. English, August
judged by Colin Meloy

Alentejo Blue v. Apex Hides the Hurt
judged by Dan Chaon

Against the Day v. Pride of Baghdad
judged by Anthony Doerr

• Round Two •

Half of a Yellow Sun v. The Emperor’s Children
judged by Jessa Crispin

Firmin v. The Road
judged by Mark Sarvas

One Good Turn v. The Lay of the Land
judged by Maud Newton

Alentejo Blue v. Against the Day
judged by Sam Lipsyte


Half of a Yellow Sun v. The Road
judged by Elizabeth Gaffney

One Good Turn v. Against the Day
judged by Sasha Frere-Jones


The Road v. Against the Day
judged by Andrew Womack

One Good Turn v. Absurdistan
judged by Rosecrans Baldwin


The Road v. Absurdistan
All Judges + Jessica Francis Kane