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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Powell's Books

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


From the Booth



The Road


GUILFOILE: More carnage in the Book Blogger Office Pool as a surprising number of participants (two thirds!) picked Firmin to defeat pre-tourney favorite The Road. I’m not sure why that is except that maybe Firmin, which was a pick of the Litblog Co-op is something like the blogger hometown team. (Hint, if you’re ever in my family’s NCAA pool, always pick against Notre Dame. You and my wife will be the only ones).

Also few people could have predicted Mark Sarvas’s hostility toward animal protagonists. Has he no fondness at all for Jack London? Did Mark have an uncle who used to beat him with a copy of Black Beauty or something?

WARNER: I too am surprised by Sarvas’s hostility. After all, his dismissal of the animal protagonist invalidates everything from Watership Down (rabbits) to Old Yeller (rabid dog) to Catcher in the Rye (rabid teenager).

When one looks at the great animal protagonists of literature, one often looks to Ralph, of children’s classic The Mouse and the Motorcycle. In the book by Beverly Cleary, Ralph finds that he can make a toy motorcycle go by simply making a motorcycle noise with his mouth. I tried this recently when the fuel line on my car came detached. I sat in my driveway, gripping the wheel and going, “vroom vroom,” but gas continued to pour to the ground, making me increasingly lightheaded. Perhaps the problem is that I have a Prius and should have been doing something less combustion-energyish.

Frankly, I find Sarvas’s hostility to animal protagonists weird. I hope he never has kids because the anthropomorphized animated animal flick is basically the go-to for parents of all stripes. If he ever finds himself in a Khalid Sheikh Mohammed-style detention situation, his captors will have him spilling the beans after a couple of showings of The Lion King or Finding Nemo.

« 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