Should you find yourself fired up by competition but left cold by college sports, the Morning News may have the answer: Today marks the start of the online magazine's ninth annual Tournament of Books. The tournament brands itself as "the grand-daddy of high-brow bracketology," and is the literary world's answer to March Madness.
Here's how it works: Every weekday, beginning today, two works of fiction from 2012 will face off, with judges deciding which one to advance to the next bracket. Biases, preferences, connections to the author, and judging decision processes will all be revealed in elaborate explanations accompanying each judge's choice, along with play-by-play match commentary by writers Kevin Guilfoile and John Warner.
At the end of the month, the last novel standing will be awarded the Rooster, a prize named, for whatever reason, after David Sedaris' brother. Last year's winner was "The Sisters Brothers" by Patrick deWitt.
The Morning News has also announced the inclusion this year of "a Zombie Round, plenty of contests and prizes, [and] a visit from the Biblioracle." Also new this year is today's pre-tournament playoff, in which novels compete for the 16th "wild card" spot in the starting bracket. Contenders in the pre-ToB play-in are "The Yellow Birds" by Kevin Powers, "Bily Lynn's Long Halftime Walk," for which Ben Fountain just won the NBCC Award, and David Abrams's "Fobbit."