Books Tournament: anybody know how to joust?

TournamentThe Morning News, one of the first and best online publications devoted to news and culture, has announced The First Annual TMN Tournament of Books, sponsored by Powell’s Booksellers.

I’ve agreed to join Mark Sarvas, Jessa Crispin, Choire Sicha, Pitchaya Sudbanthad, and others as judges in the tournament, the rules for which are so complicated I’d have to get drunk before I could explain them to you.

But I’ve read my two assigned books and turned in my judgment, and we’re gearing up for the final stage.

Here’s part of the editors’ announcement:

Months ago, a number of the writers and editors were sitting around (not together, but around their computers) discussing the past year’s various dust-ups over book awards. The awards were only meaningful, someone suggested, to the winners and the marketing departments who pushed them. Too bad, said another, that the readers got nothing out of it. Someone suggested what publishing needed was an event like the Oscars or the Emmys in style, a lavish awards program judged by hundreds, celebrating brilliance in the wide variety of books published by the big New York houses and tiny independents. Yes! we said. Such a thing could invigorate book publishing, inspire millions to read more! Might it be possible, we wondered, that a spunky little web magazine could sponsor such an event and in doing so, lend an excitement to book awards that hasn’t been seen before in America?

No, we agreed. It was not possible.

But wouldn’t it be possible, exciting, and also fun to take 16 of the most celebrated books of the year and pit them against one another in a NCAA-style Battle Royale of literary excellence to see which novel became The First Annual TMN Tournament of Books Champion?

In the past, I’ve been opposed to permanent banners of any kind, but to support TMN I’m going to put the tournament button in the left-hand sidebar and keep it there for three weeks, until the winner is announced.


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