Tuesday, March 13, 2012

ToB 2012: The Stranger's Child vs. The Tiger's Wife

Tournament of Books 2012


The Stranger's Child
Alan Hollinghurst
The Tiger's Wife
Téa Obreht

Let's recap yesterday: 

What do you call it when you pretty much know something is going to happen but it surprises you anyway?  That's how I felt when I read that judge Misha Angrist had chosen 1Q84 over The Last Brother.  On Sunday I had predicted that The Last Brother would move on to the next round of the tournament, but all along I had a nagging feeling that 1Q84 would be recognized for the risks that it took, despite its failings.  It looks like I should have listened to my gut after all.  The comments on the judgement and the commentary are pretty interesting.  It looks like, on balance, most of the people in the comments felt that The Last Brother was the stronger book.  Oh well, 1Q84 moves on to the next round where it will do battle with the winner of today's match-up.

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 Tuesday's match-up!

Full disclosure: I haven't read either of these books.

Téa Obreht's debut novel, The Tiger's Wife is the winner of the 2011 Orange Prize and was a finalist for the 2011 National Book Award.  Obreht was born in the former Yugoslavia and now lives in the United States. The Tiger's Wife takes place in an unnamed province of the Balkans and features a female doctor and her relationship to her grandfather, who is also a doctor.  Obreht weaves contemporary folktales with the narration of her main character and the product is beautifully written novel that has echos of the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

The Stranger's Child is Alan Hollinghurst's fifth novel.  His last novel, 2004's The Line of Beauty, won the 2004 Man Booker Prize.  The Stranger's Child was long-listed for the 2011 Man Booker.  The Stranger's Child is loosely the story of a poet named Cecil Valance, who writes a poem in 1913 after visiting his friend George Sawle.  The poem is assumed to be written for George's sister Daphne, but was likely written for George himself.  Cecil goes off to fight in the first World War and is killed in action and Cecil's poem becomes a sort of national treasure and Cecil himself a sort of literary hero.  The novel concerns itself mostly with Cecil's legacy, told at different points in history as the truth of Cecil's sexuality and the true nature of the poem is revealed.

I can tell you right away that The Tiger's Wife is most definitely the type of book that I love.  I'm a fan of magical realism, of interesting structure and inventiveness that still manages to be readable.  The Stranger's Child is not at all the sort of book that I'd like to read.  The story doesn't interest me in the slightest and while I understand that the writing is gorgeous, I just don't think I'd be able to get through more than a few pages.

I give this match-up to The Tiger's Wife based solely on the fact that I can't imagine making myself read The Stranger's Child.  Maybe not great reasoning, but it's the best I can do.

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! 

1 comment:

Megs said...

I am doing surprisingly not awful in this little guessing game. Yay me!