The Morning News

The Morning News Tournament of Books, sponsored by Powell’s Books, is an annual battle royale amongst the top novels in “literary fiction” published throughout the year. Read more about this year’s tournament »

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Powell's Books

The 2007 Tournament of Books is over. To view this year's Tournament, go here.


From the Booth





WARNER: For me this is the sleeper match-up of round one, with neither author being a household name. Honestly, though, none of the authors in this tournament are a “household name,” in the same way that Britney Spears or Carson Kressley or Jared from the Subway ads are household names. After one 90-second performance on American Idol, Antonella Barba had a higher Q rating than just about any living writer.

Ironically enough, probably the biggest name in this year’s tournament, Thomas Pynchon, is a recluse who emerges from seclusion just long enough to release doorstop novels and blurbs for (according to Judge Hepola) sleep-inducing historical fiction.

GUILFOILE: In another forum you and I once discussed the pitiful state of literary celebrity, and I think I said at the time that if celebrity is currency in America, then literary celebrity surely has the lowest street value. In fact, the producers of Dancing With the Stars recently made it clear that when it comes to choosing participants for a nationally televised dance competition, it is more important that the contestants not be writers than it is for them to still have both their legs. I predict that when they introduce Heather Mills on that show they will not mention the occupations that actually made her semi-famous—sex-manual model and ex-Beatlewife. They will instead say something like, “Heather has never written a novel and is generally opposed to seal hunting.”

WARNER: Firmin sounds fun. Not as much fun as watching Billy Ray Cyrus achy-break his Achilles tendon when he suffers a massive tear on the Dancing with the Stars tribute to Flashdance night, collapsing in a heap during his interpretation of Michael Sembello’s “Maniac” (leg warmers and all).

However, given its status as a Literary Blog Collective of Collectivists pick, early in the tournament Firmin has the look of this year’s Home Land, albeit with fewer ballsack jokes.

GUILFOILE: Oh man. Home Land had so many references to the ballsack that it should have been nominated for a Newberry Medal.

« Return to the judge’s decision for this match.

The Standings


• Round One •

Half of a Yellow Sun v. Absurdistan
judged by Brady Udall

The Echo Maker v. The Emperor’s Children
judged by Marcus Sakey

Firmin v. Brookland
judged by Sarah Hepola

The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo v. The Road
judged by Maria Schneider

Arthur and George v. One Good Turn
judged by Kate Schlegel

The Lay of the Land v. English, August
judged by Colin Meloy

Alentejo Blue v. Apex Hides the Hurt
judged by Dan Chaon

Against the Day v. Pride of Baghdad
judged by Anthony Doerr

• Round Two •

Half of a Yellow Sun v. The Emperor’s Children
judged by Jessa Crispin

Firmin v. The Road
judged by Mark Sarvas

One Good Turn v. The Lay of the Land
judged by Maud Newton

Alentejo Blue v. Against the Day
judged by Sam Lipsyte


Half of a Yellow Sun v. The Road
judged by Elizabeth Gaffney

One Good Turn v. Against the Day
judged by Sasha Frere-Jones


The Road v. Against the Day
judged by Andrew Womack

One Good Turn v. Absurdistan
judged by Rosecrans Baldwin


The Road v. Absurdistan
All Judges + Jessica Francis Kane