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 . . .
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.
1. Brazil (4)
2. Mexico (19)
3. Croatia (20)
4. Cameroon (50)
1. Spain (1)
2. Chile (13)
3. Netherlands (15)
4. Australia (59)
1. Colombia (5)
2. Greece (10)
3. Ivory Coast (21)
4. Japan (47)
1. Uruguay (6)
2. Italy (9)
3. England (11)
4. Costa Rica (34)
1. Switzerland (8)
2. France (16)
3. Ecuador (28)
4. Honduras (30)
1. Argentina (7)
2. Bosnia & Herzegovina (25)
3. Iran (37)
4. Nigeria (44)
1. Germany (2)
2. Portugal (3)
3. USA (14)
4. Ghana (38)
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:
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
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!
Randall Jarrell once argued a point that I will now paraphrase and, in doing so, over-simplify: As a culture, we need book criticism, not book reviews. I sort of agree, but let’s not get into all of that. Having finished. . .
Like any good potboiler worth its salt, Fuminori Nakamura’s The Gun wastes no time setting up its premise: “Last night, I found a gun. Or you could say I stole it, I’m not really sure. I’ve never seen something so. . .
Heiner Resseck, the protagonist in Monika Held’s thought-provoking, first novel, This Place Holds No Fear, intentionally re-lives his past every hour of every day. His memories are his treasures, more dear than the present or future. What wonderful past eclipses. . .
If you’ve ever worked in a corporate office, you’ve likely heard the phrase, “Perception is reality.” To Björn, the office worker who narrates Jonas Karlsson’s novel The Room, the reality is simple: there’s a door near the bathroom that leads. . .
I recently listened to Three Percent Podcast #99, which had guest speaker Julia Berner-Tobin from Feminist Press. In addition to the usual amusement of finally hearing both sides of the podcast (normally I just hear parts of Chad’s side. . .
Let’s not deceive ourselves, man is nothing very special. In fact, there are so many of us that our governments don’t know what to do with us at all. Six billion humans on the planet and only six or seven. . .
“Rambling Jack—what’s that?”
“A novel. Novella, I guess.”
“Yeah, it looks short. What is it, a hundred pages?”
“Sorta. It’s a duel language book, so really, only about… 50 pages total.”
“And this—what. . .
Many authors are compared to Roberto Bolaño. However, very few authors have the privilege of having a Roberto Bolaño quote on the cover of their work; and at that, one which states, “Good readers will find something that can be. . .
In Josep Maria de Sagarra’s Private Life, a man harangues his friend about literature while walking through Barcelona at night:
When a novel states a fact that ties into another fact and another and another, as the chain goes on. . .
César Aira dishes up an imaginative parable on how identity shapes our sense of belonging with Dinner, his latest release in English. Aira’s narrator (who, appropriately, remains nameless) is a self-pitying, bitter man—in his late fifties, living again with. . .