Tag Archives: 2012

The Tournament of Books, 2013

The Tournament of Books ended last week. Sponsored by The Morning News, the Tournament of Books is a “March-Madness style book battle,” now in its 9th year. I was curious to see that of the 18 novels selected as some of the best books of 2012, six were debuts:

Fobbit by David Abrams

HHhH by Laurent Binet

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Ivyland by Miles Klee

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers (reviewed on Proto Libro)

Two of these books were eliminated in the “Pre-Tournament Play In” that put Fobbit, Yellow Birds and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk up against each other as Iraq war books, with Billy Lynn winning and making it into the actual brackets. Billy Lynn got eliminated in its next round, up against A.M. Homes’ May We Be Forgiven.

All of the other debuts also got eliminated in the first rounds, in tough match ups. Ivyland, a sardonic book about “drugs, decay, loss” went up against Gilian Flynn’s best selling, Gone Girl, a suspenseful page-turner about a wife who goes missing. Others were defeated by Hilary Mantel’s Man Booker Prize winning Bring Up the Bodies and Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins, which I have heard is a beautifully rendered novel; and his seventh book.

The books selected for the tournament are to be some of the best published in 2012. There is no set criteria for how books are chosen, rather nominations come from a variety of sources and are whittled down through conversation by a “decision panel.” It is great to see so many debuts bubbling up to the top of this list, and although there is a satirical quality to this competition, a sort of anti-prize tournament in which the winner gets a live rooster, after nine years the tournament has established itself enough to be presented by Barnes and Noble this year.

And while the debut’s didn’t fare so well, this year’s winner was The Orphan Master’s Son, by Adam Johnson. It is the author’s second novel and widely reviewed as one of the best novels of 2012. It’s on my list. I find this tournament an entertaining way to learn about new books and to find books I might have overlooked from the past year.

Next week I am going to start reviewing some debuts just published in the spring of 2013…next up Heart of Palm, by Laura Lee Smith.









1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

More Best Books of 2012

Happy New Year! Thanks to all my readers, especially those of you who dove in and subscribed to my blog early on. I appreciate your interest and look forward to sharing reviews with you and hopefully hearing from you in 2013.

After all the best of book lists came out in December, I want to note three that stood out to me. The Seattle Times  had an interesting list of 15 best fiction books, including a debut novel, Alif the Unseen, written by a woman, G. Willow Wilson, who has also written a few graphic novels. It is described as a thriller with a hacker main character. I have added it to my 2013 reading list.

Salon has a nice round up. They asked authors who published books in 2012 to list the book they loved most from the year. Not a lot of debut books on the list, but a list worth checking out.

And the Wall Street Journal had a few debut novels on their list, including one, Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt that I will be reviewing next week



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized