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World Cup of Literature: The Books, The Judges, The Match Schedule

With the Real World Cup (RWC) kicking off Thursday afternoon, it’s time to announce the participants in this year’s World Cup of Literature (WCL). This post is pretty long, but is also packed with information: all 32 competing titles, the names of the 24 judges, a bit of info on the methodology, and the official bracket . . .

The Books

First off, thanks to everyone who submitted suggestions of books to participate in the WCL. We received way more recommendations than we expected—along with requests to serve as a judge—and it was pretty tough narrowing these all down to a mere 32 titles. (Which, incidentally, makes me think that we should do this again next year for the Women’s World Cup, but include only books written by women.)

Our criteria shifted based on the country in question, but, if at all possible, we only looked at books written in the original language after 2000 (thus eliminating all the “old guys” like David Beckham), and tried, in some quasi-logical way, to tie each book to its country’s actual team. I’ll leave it to the individual judges to expound upon these connections (if they feel like it), but, just to provide an example, we went with The Pale King by David Foster Wallace as the U.S. representative because, like the USMNT, it’s an unfinished product, made of various pieces, and all about boredom (which is how some people in the States view soccer as a whole). Not to mention, The Pale King’s defense is pretty shaky . . .

The Bracket: Some Methodology

For the sake of ease (and respecting everyone’s time and sanity), we decided to forego the whole round-robin group-stage thing. But that doesn’t mean we wanted to ignore the groups altogether in pursuit of a perfect NCAA-like bracket. So we kept the groups, ranked the teams in each group 1-4 (according to the most recent FIFA world rankings), and matched #1 vs. #4 and #2 vs. #3 for each group. So all of our first round matches will happen in the group stage.

As for placing the first-round matches on the bracket, we followed the format of the RWC, pitting A1 vs B2; B1 vs A2; etc. in the second round, using the rankings as the 1s and 2s. This will, of course, fall completely apart and result—most likely—in a second round that looks nothing like the RWC’s, but there remains a chance that we’ll manage to mirror the RWC, at least in a few spots on the bracket.

The groups and rankings (with FIFA world rankings in parentheses), in case you’re curious, are below.

Group A
1. Brazil (4)
2. Mexico (19)
3. Croatia (20)
4. Cameroon (50)

Group B
1. Spain (1)
2. Chile (13)
3. Netherlands (15)
4. Australia (59)

Group C
1. Colombia (5)
2. Greece (10)
3. Ivory Coast (21)
4. Japan (47)

Group D
1. Uruguay (6)
2. Italy (9)
3. England (11)
4. Costa Rica (34)

Group E
1. Switzerland (8)
2. France (16)
3. Ecuador (28)
4. Honduras (30)

Group F
1. Argentina (7)
2. Bosnia & Herzegovina (25)
3. Iran (37)
4. Nigeria (44)

Group G
1. Germany (2)
2. Portugal (3)
3. USA (14)
4. Ghana (38)

Group H
1. Belgium (12)
2. Russia (18)
3. Algeria (25)
4. South Korea (55)

The Judges and Match Dates

So, without further ado, here are books, the first (and second) round match ups, and the names of the judges who will be presiding over these first 24 matches of the WCL. All links lead to listings on Powells so that you can buy these and play along:

First Round

Brazil v Cameroon 6/12 – Jeffrey Zuckerman

Russia v Algeria 6/13 – Chris Schaefer

Italy v England 6/13 – Trevor Berrett

Spain v Australia 6/16 – Mauro Javier Cardenas

Colombia v Japan 6/17 – George Carroll

Switzerland v Honduras 6/18 – Hannah Chute

Argentina v Nigeria 6/19 – Lance Edmonds

Mexico v Croatia 6/20 – Katrine Ogaard

Portugal v USA 6/20 – Will Evans

France v Ecuador 6/23 – P.T. Smith

Chile v Netherlands 6/24 – Shaun Randol

Greece v Ivory Coast 6/25 – Laura Radosh

Bosnia & Herzegovina v Iran 6/26 – Hal Hlavinka

Belgium v South Korea 6/26 – Scott Esposito

Uruguay v Costa Rica 6/27 – Kaija Straumanis

Germany v Ghana 6/27 – James Crossley

Second Round

6/30 – Jeff Waxman
Brazil/Cameroon v Chile/Netherlands

6/30 – Rhea Lyons
Colombia/Japan v Italy/England

7/1- Stephen Sparks
Switzerland/Honduras v B&H/Iran

7/1 – Florian Duijsens
Germany/Ghana v Russia/Algeria

7/2 – Chad W. Post
Mexico/Croatia v Spain/Australia

7/2 – Elianna Kan
Greece/Ivory Coast v Uruguay/Costa Rica

7/3 – Tom Roberge
France/Ecuador v Argentina/Nigeria

7/3 – Lori Feathers
Portugal/US v Belgium/South Korea

Below you can see the actual bracket, or you can download a printable PDF version here.

See you on Thursday with the result of the first match—Brazil vs. Cameroon!



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