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!
Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .
It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .
From the late 1940s to the early 1950s, Egypt was going through a period of transition. The country’s people were growing unhappy with the corruption of power in the government, which had been under British rule for decades. The Egyptians’. . .
Miruna is a novella written in the voice of an adult who remembers the summer he (then, seven) and his sister, Miruna (then, six) spent in the Evil Vale with their grandfather (sometimes referred to as “Grandfather,” other times as. . .
Kamal Jann by the Lebanese born author Dominique Eddé is a tale of familial and political intrigue, a murky stew of byzantine alliances, betrayals, and hostilities. It is a well-told story of revenge and, what’s more, a serious novel that. . .
While looking back at an episode in his life, twenty-year-old Taguchi Hiro remembers what his friend Kumamoto Akira said about poetry.
Its perfection arises precisely from its imperfection . . . . I have an image in my head. I see. . .
The central concern of Sorj Chalandon’s novel Return to Killybegs appears to be explaining how a person of staunch political activism can be lead to betray his cause, his country, his people. Truth be told, the real theme of the. . .
Spoiler alert: acclaimed writer Stefan Zweig and his wife Lotte kill themselves at the end of Lauren Seksik’s 2010 novel, The Last Days.
It’s hard to avoid spoiling this mystery. Zweig’s suicide actually happened, in Brazil in 1942, and since then. . .
To call Kjell Askildsen’s style sparse or terse would be to understate just how far he pushes his prose. Almost nothing is explained, elaborated on. In simple sentences, events occur, words are exchanged, narrators have brief thoughts. As often as. . .
After a mysterious woman confesses to an author simply known as “R” that she has loved him since she was a teenager, she offers the following explanation: “There is nothing on earth like the love of a child that passes. . .