Friday, March 28, 2014

2014 Tournament of Books

As always, I enjoyed following the Tournament of Books this year.  The contenders were:   

    * At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcón
    * The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
    * The Tuner of Silences by Mia Couto
    * The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
    * How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid
    * The Dinner by Herman Koch
    * The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
    * Long Division by Kiese Laymon
    * The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
    * Hill William by Scott McClanahan
    * The Son by Philipp Meyer
    * A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
    * Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell 
    * The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt  Reading
    * The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara
    * Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

And the winner was The Good Lord Bird. 

This year I managed to read before the Tournament started The Turner of Silences, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, Long Division, A Tale for the Time Being, Goldfinch and am still reading The People in the Trees.  The Goldfinch I would have read with or without the TOBs because I just loved Donna Tartt’s Secret History but the others weren’t on my radar.

I enjoyed the Goldfinch but not nearly as much as Secret History.  I actually listened to it and the narrator did such an amazing job with Boris that he was by far my favorite part of the book.  Of these TOB books A Tale for the Time Being was certainly my favorite which I never would have read based upon its description.  I loved both story lines of the writer Ruth in the Pacific Northwest and teenager Nao and her family in Japan and simply couldn’t put it down.  I don’t normally re-read books but I will definitely be re-reading this one.  My second favorite was Long Division, not because I thought it was particularly well crafted, but because it was so unique.  I found the time travel bits and alternate versions of the main characters a bit forced, but nonetheless I just loved the unique voice of City and his friends.  I don’t think it is going to win any prizes and I probably won’t be recommending it to anyone to read as I am not sure it appeals to a wide audience, but I certainly will read whatever this writer publishes next.  That being said, it is interesting that Kevin and John compared it to Colson Whitehead's first novel The Intuitionist, which I also loved because ironically I haven’t enjoyed any of Colson Whitehead’s other books anywhere near as much as his first.  Long Division is the one book that has stuck with me the most even though it was the very first one that I read for the TOBs.  I enjoyed both How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia and Turner of Silences and thought they were well done but they both struck me as books that I have read before.  I will have to reserve judgment on The People in the Trees as I am not that far into it. 

Having now followed all of the match ups, judging and commentary I definitely intend to read the winner, The Good Lord Bird.  I also intend to read Life After Life and possibly The Luminaries and The Son.  I thoroughly enjoyed the TOBs and was able to read far more of the books before the Tournament started than I had in the past, which made it even more interesting.  But enough of "literary" fiction, it is time to move onto Carl’s Once Upon A Time Challenge reading fantasy, folklore, fairy tales or mythology.             

No comments: