Canada vs. Germany [Women's World Cup of Literature: CHAMPIONSHIP]

OK, here we are, at the final match of the first ever Women’s World Cup of Literature. If you missed any of the earlier games, or just want to read about all the incredible books that were included in this tournament, just click here.

The Championship pits two very different books against one another. On one side is Germany’s The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky, translated by Tim Mohr.

Rosa Achmetowna is the outrageously nasty and wily narrator of this rollicking family saga from the author of Broken Glass Park. When she discovers that her seventeen-year-old daughter, “stupid Sulfia,” is pregnant by an unknown man she does everything to thwart the pregnancy, employing a variety of folkloric home remedies. But despite her best efforts the baby, Aminat, is born nine months later at Soviet Birthing Center Number 134. Much to Rosa’s surprise and delight, dark eyed Aminat is a Tartar through and through and instantly becomes the apple of her grandmother’s eye. While her good for nothing husband Kalganow spends his days feeding pigeons and contemplating death at the city park, Rosa wages an epic struggle to wrestle Aminat away from Sulfia, whom she considers a woefully inept mother. When Aminat, now a wild and willful teenager, catches the eye of a sleazy German cookbook writer researching Tartar cuisine, Rosa is quick to broker a deal that will guarantee all three women a passage out of the Soviet Union. But as soon as they are settled in the West, the uproariously dysfunctional ties that bind mother, daughter and grandmother begin to fray.

Told with sly humor and an anthropologist’s eye for detail, The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine is the story of three unforgettable women whose destinies are tangled up in a family dynamic that is at turns hilarious and tragic. In her new novel, Russian-born Alina Bronsky gives readers a moving portrait of the devious limits of the will to survive.

On the other side of the field, there’s Canada’s Margaret Atwood and Oryx & Crake, the first book in the MaddAddam Trilogy. (Already a beer, soon to be an HBO show.)

Oryx & Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.

An aggressive, dysfunctional mother against the apocalypse. Bio-modified animals against Tartar cuisine. These are very different books . . . Both of which you should read!

Anyway, on with the match!

Emily Ballaine: Germany

The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine for the win! Rosa is clearly the Carli Lloyd of this match and should be awarded a golden boot for subterfuge, force of will and outright trickery.

Germany 1 – Canada 0

Hal Hlavinka: Germany

My Europa Editions-love won this one.

Germany 2 – Canada 0

Lizzy Siddal: Germany

Adopting an attack-is-the-best-form-of-defence strategy, the German team comes out and plays with astonishing brio. Their striker, the ruthless dynamo that is Rosa Achmetowna, never lets the goal out of her sight. Canada in Jimmy the Snowman, their one man guardian of the human race, have a resilient defence in the integrity that Rosa does not possess.

But in extra-time, Snowman is tired. Crake’s victim inevitably becomes Rosa’s victim and the ball lands in the back of the Canadian net. Rosa’s sheer bloodymindedness (and younger legs) carry the day.

Germany 3 – Canada 0

Kalah McCaffrey: Germany

Germany 4 – Canada 0

Lori Feathers: Canada

As much as I loved the imperious Rosalinda and cheered on Bronsky for being the lesser known author, I just can’t get the voices of Oryx and the other Crakers out of my head. Bronsky gives us an extraordinary narrator but Atwood creates an entire world. Atwood gets my vote.

Germany 4 – Canada 1

Meredith Miller: Germany

Sticking with Germany as my pony!

Germany 5 – Canada 1

Sal Robinson: Canada

Oryx & Crake! I love Tim and I get the masterful thing that Hottest Dishes is, but I just couldn’t ever warm up to it (ha ha).

Germany 5 – Canada 2

Rhea Lyons: Germany


Germany 6 – Canada 2

Hilary Plum: Germany

In a wicked upset, The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine defeats Oryx & Crake. Germany’s game is streamlined, comical, and always a little bit nasty, and it triumphs over the elaborate world-building of its opponent.

Germany 7 – Canada 2

Rachel Crawford: Canada


Germany 7 – Canada 3

Margaret Carson: Canada

Oryx and Crake all the way! Time for a ticker-tape parade!

Germany 7 – Canada 4

The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine wins!!!!!

Congrats to Alina Bronsky and Tim Mohr, and special thanks to all of our great judges who helped celebrate women’s literature and the world cup in a fun, interesting way.

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