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The Morning News and Powell's Books Present the 2009 Tournament of BooksThe annual NCAA-style battle between literary titans
March 19, 2009, Portland, ORAs the NCAA Championship returns to Portland, Oregon, today, the madness begins. Portlanders are thrilled that the tournament has returned after 26 years, and the city's own Portland State University has a spot in first-round play. The excitement in Portland is not focused exclusively on college basketball, however, it also surrounds books, as The Morning News and Portland's Powell's Books host the one and only "Battle Royale of Literary Excellence." Sixteen books enter, but only one can win the grand prize the Rooster.
A few years ago, the folks at The Morning News, an independent daily online magazine, were up late and talking about how much they enjoy literary awards in spite of the fact they are also silly and arbitrary. The idea that anyone should accept the word of any small group of people about a topic so subjective as the best literature of the year seemed ridiculous.
After several drinks and much debate, night turned to morning, and they had the rough outlines of something called The Tournament of Books, in which they would seed the year's most celebrated works of fiction in a March Madness-type bracket and pit those novels against each other in a Sweet 16 battle. In honor of their favorite character in contemporary literature, David Sedaris's brother, aka "The Rooster," they decided to present the winning author with a live chicken.
Now in its fifth year, The Tournament of Books celebrates previous champions — David Mitchell, Ali Smith, Cormac McCarthy, and Junot Díaz — knowing the Rooster is a badge they wear proudly on their highly decorated chests, somewhere between the ones for orienteering and basketry.
Powell's Books is the proud sponsor of the Tournament, featuring all 16 contenders at Powells.com for 30% off list price. This year's competitors include: The White Tiger, 2666, A Partisan's Daughter, The Northern Clemency, The Lazarus Project, My Revolutions, Unaccustomed Earth, Shadow Country, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, The Dart League King, A Mercy, Steer toward Rock, Netherland, City of Refuge, Home, and Harry, Revised.
Visit The Morning News to print a bracket and read more about the competitors.
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