Sunday, March 11, 2012

ToB 2012: 1Q84 vs.The Last Brother

Tournament of Books 2012

1Q84
Haruki Murakami
The Last Brother
Nathacha Appanah

Before we get going, some thoughts about what went down on Friday:

In the first big surprise of the tournament, Lightning Rods took down the National Book Award winning Salvage The Bones.  After reading all of the comments, I can more clearly see why some people preferred Lightning Rods, but it's still a bit of a shocker.  There's a change that Salvage The Bones will come back in the Zombie Round, but I kind of doubt it.

Only seven of you correctly picked the first two winners, but there's still plenty of time to earn some more points.  There are lots of tournament days to go!

We'll be collecting your Quarterfinal Picks on Monday, March 19th.  You must have your Quarterfinal picks in by 11:59PM CDT.  Remember to follow Forever Overhead on Twitter and/or Facebook and subscribe to our RSS feed for the latest posts.

On to Monday's match-up!

Of the two, I've only read 1Q84 and I'm finding that it's easier to write about two books you haven't read than it is to write about a pair of books when you haven't read one of them.

Despite being a big Murakami fan, I didn't like 1Q84 very much.  It's about 900 pages and in parts it just drags on and on without advancing the plot.  There's a lot of repetition and while I understand that an argument can be made that the repetition and the monotony is part of the story, it just left me cold and bored.  Despite this, I think 1Q84 has a decent chance of winning just based on the good will that Murakami has cultivated over the years.  Murakami is Japan's biggest literary export and well-respected here in the United States.  Although the major-media reviews were mixed, 1Q84 has a lot of fans.  A few of you even picked it to win the overall tournament!

I haven't read The Last Brother, but I've done a bit of research.  Nathacha Appanah is is a Mauritian-French author, currently residing in France. The Last Brother is her third novel and was published in France in 2007.  It won two awards in France (Prix de la FNAC in 2007 and the Grand Prix des Lecteurs de L'Express in 2008).   I'll let the New York Times provide the synopsis:
Inspired by the largely unknown story of 1,500 Jews who fled Europe only to be imprisoned in Mauritius from 1940 to 1945 after their ship was refused entry into Palestine (then under British rule), the novel recounts the heartfelt friendship between two boys: David, a Czech orphan, and Raj, an Indian-Mauritian grieving for the two brothers he lost in a flash flood.
Sounds pretty interesting, right?  I know I'm putting it on my TBR list!

So we have two books in translation, both take place in the past but one is grounded in history and the other one isn't grounded at all...

I'm going to go with The Last Brother for this round.  About 66% of you picked 1Q84.  I'm not sure if that's because 1Q84 is the better known of the two or if people actually think it's the better book.  Whatever happens, it'll be interesting!

Powells.com is a sponsor of the Tournament of Books and you would be doing them (and me) a big favor if you used this link to buy any of the books in this year's tournament.  All ToB books are 30% off their list price and you'll be supporting a great bookseller! 

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