The Tournament of Books 2017
Every year, I get excited to fill out my brackets in March. However, more than basketball, I get excited about my book brackets! Last year, I highlighted some of my favorite books from past Tournament of Books, but this year I wanted to talk about some of my favorites from this year's contest. I haven't read them all yet - yes, librarians have to wait for holds, too, but here are some of my favorites of the ones I have read!
Version Control by Dexter Palmer
This is a science fiction novel about a time machine - but please don’t call it a time machine: it’s a causality violation device. How would time travel work, if it worked? Is time a closed loop, where anything that happens must have already happened and nothing can be changed a la the time-turners in Harry Potter, or can things change? And if we can change the past, could we even remember what happened in the prior timeline, or would it be erased, since it never actually happened? But this is also a story about the “twilight years” after college of underemployment, and online dating, and big data, and marriage. I’m generally a sucker for time machines and multiverse stories, but even if that’s not your typical genre this is a great one.
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
All the Birds in the Sky is another science fiction novel, and on paper, it’s exactly the kind of book I’d love, and it lived up to my expectations. Patricia becomes a witch in childhood and Lawrence’s engineering skills lead to science-fictional technology. A sort-of romance about childhood friends involving magical powers and time machines? Sign me up!
The Nix by Nathan Hill
This novel is about a young Professor, Samuel Andresen-Anderson, whose mother left him at a young age. It's also the story of his mother Faye, a high-achieving woman from a small town in Iowa in the late 1960s who become embroiled in the protest movement. It's also a novel about childhood nightmares and childhood loves and how they can follow us through our adult lives. It's also a deeply cynical novel about American politics and consumerism, as well as a send-up of video game obsessives and college culture.
Mister Monkey by Francine Prose
I did not think I’d like Mister Monkey, but the more I read the more I liked it. Each chapter is narrated by a different character loosely connected to a production of a terrible fictional children’s musical called “Mister Monkey”. As the novel progresses, the world slowly grows and each character’s vignette illuminates the others.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Homegoing is structured similarly to Mister Monkey. Homegoing is about the descendants of two half-sisters from 18th century Ghana. One sister is sold into slavery in America and one stays in Africa. Chapters alternate between stories of descendants of each sister until the present day. Obviously, a lot of the history involved is tragic, but the book is still beautiful. Each individual's profile feels like a real, whole person and I would probably read a whole novel about each one.
Are you rooting for any particular books in this year's tournament?