Tournament of Books update

If you haven’t been following the Tournament of Books — fiction’s answer to the NCAA — update your brackets, because we’re heading toward the second round. Here’s a recap:

  • Choire Sicha chooses Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love over Dave Bergen’s The Time In-Between. (“Anyone who says that choosing the better of two books isn’t entirely about what mood they were in or their current romantic state or just about what they like — the same way they like House but not Grey’s Anatomy — is a total liar.”) Kate Schlegel gives Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close the nod over Gaitskill’s Veronica. (“[T]his is one of the first books I’ve seen to successfully address the trauma of the Sept. 11 attacks without turning overly sappy or whipping out the American flag.”) So The History of Love and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close — Krauss and Foer are married, and some reviewers noted strong similarities between the books — advance to the next round. Bookslut‘s Jessa Crispin will decide between them.
  • Ishiguro’s latest trounces Stephanie Doyon’s The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole in Georgie Lewis’ judgment. (“I read Never Let Me Go before it was released last year and knew it was one of the best books I had read in close to a decade.”) And Sam Lipsyte’s Home Land narrowly edges past Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian in Jessica Francis Kane’s opinion. (“In the end I decided to be guided by the fact that I read both books with a pen in hand, but only used it in one of them.”) The Elegant Variation‘s Mark Sarvas will consider the Ishiguro and the Lipsyte.
  • Anthony Doerr begins his comparison of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men and Whitney Terrell’s The King of Kings County with an exclamation — “Mismatch!” — but finds the books more evenly matched than he’d expected. Still, the scale tips toward McCarthy, his favorite going in. (“McCarthy at his worst is still better than most living American novelists and lots of dead ones, too.”) Nell James, “a fan of fantasy, mythology, ironic humor and a former follower of ‘alternative’ comic books (yes, I went to a few conventions),” picks Ali Smith’s The Accidental over Neil Gaiman’s The Anansi Boys. (“The Accidental is ambitious, creative and insightful while Anansi Boys is rather light and, though personality-infused, not wildly groundbreaking.”) So I get the McCarthy and the Smith.

Dale Peck (maybe you’ve heard of him?) and Brigid Hughes (former editor of The Paris Review, now of A Public Space) will judge the third round.


You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.