2010 Tournament of Books is here!

At The Morning News, they’ve published the short list of 16 novels for the literary March Madness Tournament of books.

The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood
The Anthologist, by Nicholson Baker
Fever Chart, by Bill Cotter
Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth, by Apostolos Doxiadis
The Book of Night Women, by Marlon James
The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver
Big Machine, by Victor Lavalle
Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann
Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
A Gate at the Stairs, by Lorrie Moore
Miles from Nowhere, by Nami Mun
That Old Cape Magic, by Richard Russo
Burnt Shadows, by Kamila Shamsie
The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, by Wells Tower
Lowboy, by John Wray

The long list had some puzzling exclusions, like Jeff in Venice; Death in Vanasi, and In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, both of which were on my to-read list from last year. The jump from long to short has me puzzled as well. I’m disappointed these didn’t make the cut: Await Your Reply, Dan Chaon, Trouble, Kate Christensen, The Believers, Zoe Heller, Chronic City, Jonathan Lethem, The City & The City, China Mieville, Lark and Termite, Jayne Anne Phillips, This Is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper, and The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters. All these sounded promising to me when they came out last year.

Further, I’m stymied by the inclusion of these: Fever Chart, Bill Cotter, The Book of Night Women, Marlon James, Miles from Nowhere, Nami Mun, and Burnt Shadows, Kamila Shamsie. These, over the ones in the previous paragraph?

Finally, I’m not thrilled to see either Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs or Russo’s That Old Cape Magic. Neither are supposed to be the writer at the top of her/his game, so I can’t get excited to read them.

That said, I AM excited to try and read as many as I can of these, all of which I’ve heard good things about: The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood, The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker, Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis, The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, Big Machine by Victor Lavalle, Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (also a selection of Books and Bars), Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (which lit friends Amy R and Kate F both liked), The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower, and Lowboy by John Wray.

I’m off to put some books in my queue at the library. Who’s going to be joining the fray?

6 Responses to “2010 Tournament of Books is here!”

  1. Amy Says:

    I have to admit I read and did not love Lark & Termite, thought it very uneven. I haven’t finished Wolf Hall–got it from the library, liked the beginning very much, realized it was a “long” read, and got it for Christmas. But given that I’m not usually one for historical political fiction, the fact that the beginning entertained me enough to want to own it is a good sign. Have to admit I’m not a big fan of Kingsolver, so probably won’t read that one. I’ve heard some mixed things about the Zeller. She’s someone people some either to love or hate, that may have played in her exclusion.

    I’ll play along as far as I can go. I’ll never get the other 13 read, but hey, maybe I can get halfway through the list, right?

  2. Steph Says:

    I was wondering when this would go up - so excited! Doubly so because I’ve actually read two of the contenders already (the Atwood and the LaValle) which is a huge improvement over last year when I had read a grand total of 0! I’m not the biggest Atwood fan, so I never feel I can be objective with her, but I will say that I liked Year of the Flood better than I did Oryx & Crake (I wrote more here). As for Big Machine, it was definitely one of the better books I read last year (didn’t get a coveted 5-star rating for me, but came close!), and I definitely want to read more of LaValle’s other work (I wrote more about Big Machine here).

    I’m probably most looking forward to The Help and Let The Great World Spin, based on all the good stuff I’ve heard. I liked the Russo I read last year, but I’ve heard this one is less good… still, I suspect it will be good, if not great. I haven’t heard great stuff about The Lacuna, but I’ll give it a shot! Must say that I’m surprised at some of the picks since I thought I was fairly current on 2009 publishing stars, and some of the books that made the sweet 16 are completely unknown to me.

    Of course, what I wind up reading fully depends on what I can get from the local library! I intend to stick to my “buy fewer books!” resolution… at the very least, I can’t break it so soon into the year! ;) I didn’t love most of the books I read for the ToB last year, but I still found the experience fun, so you can certainly count me in!

  3. Sarah Fuchs Says:

    The Book of Night Women is stunning. Do not be stymied. Read it. A breathtaking literary effort.

  4. Kerry Says:

    I have read three from the short list: Lorrie Moore, Colum McCann, and Richard Russo. All three were disappointments due to the reputation of the author or the work or both. I am planning to read the other thirteen and blog about them, so I am hoping a favorite emerges from those thirteen.

    Of course, I am on a buy fewer books diet too, so hoping the library comes through with most of these. I am pretty far down the list on a number of them. For instance, at #494, I am likely going to have beg, borrow, or steal Wolf Hall from somewhere else.

    I doubt I will get along with Kingsolver, but that’s partly why I like the TOB, it includes books I ordinarily would never read. I would have loved to see Chronic City, which I am currently reading, in its place. I was also hoping to read Zoe Heller’s The Believers, but that’ll have to be shelved while I try to read thirteen TOB books in seven weeks. I think I can. I think I can.

    Amy, I also read Lark and Termite and enjoyed it, but won’t be urging anyone else to read it. I thought it merely good. There was some unevenness, particularly toward the end, I thought. Her means of tying the stories together and resolving the issues facing Lark seemed forced to me.

    I’ll be checking back. Thanks for the opportunity to talk TOB 2010!

  5. girldetective Says:

    Sarah, great to know! I noticed that the book on tape was in at my library branch and I’m going on a long drive, so I may begin it that way.

  6. girldetective Says:

    Kerry, thanks for your thoughts. I’m disappointed that you were disappointed in the McCann–I had high hopes for it. Wolf Hall is BIG, so even if I get it I’m not sure I’ll be able to manage it.

    I’m still haunted by the specter of Shadow Country from last year, that I took weeks to read, and was good, and edifying, and yet… I could have lived without.