tournament of books

A Look at the 2015 Tournament of Books Longlist

tournament of books

So, I’m a pretty big fan of the Tournament of Books. Most literary awards barely fly by my radar, but give me brackets with some fantastic judges and I’m IN. Last week The Morning News released the long, long list of books that “represent some of the finest works of fiction published in English” in 2014. And a fine list it is.

  • The Fever, by Megan Abbott
  • Panic in a Suitcase, by Yelena Akhtiorskaya
  • The Intimidator Still Lives in Our Hearts, by Gary Amdahl
  • Silence Once Begun, by Jesse Ball
  • Ruby, by Cynthia Bond 
  • Women, by Chloe Caldwell
  • A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall, by Will Chancellor
  • Wolf in White Van, by John Darnielle *
  • All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr *
  • The End of Days, by Jenny Erpenbeck
  • The Book of Strange New Things, by Michel Faber *
  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, by Elena Ferrante
  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Richard Flanagan *
  • Let Me Be Frank With You, by Richard Ford
  • The Secret Place, by Tana French
  • American Innovations, by Rivka Galchen
  • Arctic Summer, by Damon Galgut
  • An Untamed State, by Roxane Gay *
  • The Peripheral, by William Gibson
  • Friendship, by Emily Gould
  • Tigerman, by Nick Harkaway
  • The Book of Unknown Americans, by Cristina Henríquez
  • Wittgenstein Jr, by Lars Iyer
  • A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James *
  • The Laughing Monsters, by Denis Johnson
  • The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit, by Graham Joyce
  • Euphoria, by Lily King *
  • Redeployment, by Phil Klay *
  • My Struggle: Book Three, by Karl Ove Knausgaard
  • Nobody Is Ever Missing, by Catherine Lacey
  • California, by Edan Lepucki
  • 10:04, by Ben Lerner *
  • September Girls, by Bennett Madison
  • People Park, by Pasha Malla
  • Bedrock Faith, by Eric Charles May
  • The Children Act, by Ian McEwan
  • Our Secret Life in the Movies, by Michael McGriff and J.M. Tyree
  • The Man with the Compound Eyes, by Wu Ming-Yi
  • The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell *
  • Florence Gordon, by Brian Morton
  • Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami *
  • Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng *
  • Dept. of Speculation, by Jenny Offill *
  • Alphabet, by Kathy Page
  • Reunion, by Hannah Pittard
  • Afternoon Men, by Anthony Powell
  • Bellweather Rhapsody, by Kate Racculia
  • Lila, by Marilynne Robinson
  • Dan, by Joanna Ruocco
  • Lost for Words, by Edward St. Aubyn
  • Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel *
  • Adam, by Ariel Schrag
  • Dear Committee Members, by Julie Schumacher
  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, by David Shafer
  • Some Luck, by Jane Smiley
  • The Vacationers, by Emma Straub
  • Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel, by Anya Ulinich
  • Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance), by Jeff VanderMeer *
  • The Free, by Willy Vlautin
  • The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters
  • Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson 
  • All the Birds Singing, by Evie Wyld
  • The Wallcreeper, by Nell Zink

By early January the list will be narrowed down to 16 final books. Let’s do some predictions, shall we?

I’ve put stars beside the books I read this year and bolded those I think will end up in the Tournament. I originally had Brown Girl Dreaming on my list of predictions, but since it’s a memoir and the Tournament of Books is a fiction competition I’m not sure it will be sent through. My sixteenth spot is reserved for one of the books from a small press, but I just haven’t heard enough about any of them to make a great guess. I’m definitely planning to read Bedrock Faith by Eric Charles May (I just picked it up from the library!) because it sounds amazing and hopefully squeeze in a few others before the battle begins.

Have you read some of the books on the list? What do you think has the best chance of making it into the competition?

If you’re curious about any of the books I haven’t linked, here’s a great Goodreads list.


  • This is one of the first mainstream media “Best of” lists where I’ve actually read a good number of the books! Some of my favorites are on here and also some that you will see on my list of books that didn’t live up to the hype (coming out tomorrow). I’m sure Station Eleven will cruise through..and An Untamed State. I’m also glad to see some lighter books that are fantastic, but not as “deep” so they usually don’t make it on the “Best of” lists!

    • I love that there are so many titles I’ve read and even more I haven’t heard of (so I have a bunch to dig up now).

  • Jessica

    I was really hoping I’d have read a bunch of these since I read more newly released books this year than ever… but nope. Ah well.

    I think Station Eleven, The Fever, and An Untamed State are shoo-ins to make the list, indie darlings that achieved mainstream success, they’re pretty perfect. They always like to have a few big books so I figure The Bone Clocks and possibly the Marukami will fill those shoes.

    Then again, I am always pretty wrong about my predictions when it comes to the Tournament. Its unpredictability is one of the things I love about it.

    • They always seem to have such a great mix of big titles and sleepers that it’s ridiculously fun to watch everything unfold.

  • Jennine G.

    Oh geez, I’ve only read one of these! And I have two others to get to. Of seventy books I’ve read, I haven’t hit any of these? I’m sure they’ll end up my TBR of 2016! Lol

    • I always think that I will have read more on the list (and I try to think about what might be on there), so you’re not alone!

  • anbolynp

    I’ve read five of these and think that four of them will probably make the list (I don’t think The Fever will, but you never know). Last year was the first time I paid any attention to the tournament and I loved it. I now see why people get so excited come tournament time – I’m feeling that excitement too. Can’t wait!

    • It’s really, really fun to follow. I absolutely love reading the essays and seeing where all of the opinions fall.

  • Anna Hutchinson

    I think BROWN GIRL DREAMING will make it through because the ToB has made a point to include one major YA title a year for the past couple of years—The Fault in Our Stars followed by Eleanor & Park…and I don’t think they’d have long listed it if it being a memoir were going to be an issue down the road.

  • Ok, I’ve only read 7 on the list and another 7 are on my TBR. For the most part I agree with your predictions BUT… I think Nick Harkaway and Redeployment will be on the list. There is also a chance that Murakami will be there. Only time will tell.

    • The ones I have starred are my predictions, so I agree with you on Redeployment and Murakami ;) I can definitely see Harkaway, too!

  • I can’t wait for March! I’ve read 11 of these, a few of which I loved, and a few I didn’t care for. Of course, when the tournament rolls around, my TBR list will probably explode as I read the commentary :P

    • Yeah, there’s a few I didn’t love that I’m pretty sure will be in the tournament, but I’m looking forward to the commentary anyway!

  • I read The Secret Place, which I thought just okay. The Paying Guests was a DNF for me (so disappointing!). I can’t wait to read and already own The End of Days, All the Light We Cannot See, and Redeployment. From all the lists its been on it seems like All the Light We Cannot See is a strong contender.

  • AnnabelSmith

    All the Birds Singing is cleverly structured but didn’t move me. The Narrow Road to the Deep North is, by my reckoning, perhaps the most overrated book of all time. The Children Act was also pretty disappointing. Station Eleven & the Southern Reach trilogy both made it onto my best of 2014 list so I hope they get the accolades they deserve. The best thing about this list was seeing Jesse Ball has a new book out, which I had missed entirely.

    • I really loved the atmosphere in All the Birds, Singing more than anything else about it. I think you’re one of the only people I’ve heard from who has actually read The Narrow Road! I feel like I just have to read it to have an opinion, but I just started How to Be Both by Ali Smith and I’m already wondering how it didn’t win the Booker.

      • AnnabelSmith

        Narrow Road has swept the board in awards here in Asutralia and it feels like it’s been the only book being discussed this year. I’m so over it! I haven’t read How to Be Both – but the Booker Prize winner is often a mystery to me!