March 8, 2012: The Rooster Crows Again

Some of you may remember that crazy book tournament that I blogged about last year on more than one occasion. Remember? The one that gives a live rooster to the winning author? Literary bloodsport? Book battle to the death? Sort of hard to forget, right? Well, The Morning News Tournament of Books is back for its eighth year running and the opening round, The Sense of an Ending v The Devil All the Time, took place today.

I won’t spoil the outcome of the match, but I will say that round one of this year’s tournament doesn’t disappoint. The judge, Emma Straub, offers insightful commentary about both contenders. She falls in love with aspects of each, but also finds faults. In the end, partly because as a child she attended a hippie summer camp that outlawed competition, she has trouble picking a winner. But she does and it’s delightful. Even more delightful still is the Match Commentary by Kevin Guilfoile and John Warner, the book nerd’s Don Cherry and Ron MacLean.

If the opener is any indication, it’s going to be another great tournament and I suggest we all follow along. As always, their list of 16 contenders makes an excellent to-read list. Full list below. (I’ve only read four but they were four of my very favourites from 2011.)

  • The Last Brother, by Nathacha Appanah
  • The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes
  • Open City, by Teju Cole
  • Lightning Rods, by Helen DeWitt
  • The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
  • The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach
  • Stranger’s Child, by Alan Hollinghurst
  • Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward
  • 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami
  • The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
  • The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje
  • State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
  • The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
  • Swamplandia by Karen Russell
  • Green Girl by Kate Zambreno
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