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!
Prose translators will likely disagree, but I believe translating poetry requires a significant level of talent, a commitment to the text, and near mania, all of which suggests that the undertaking is the greatest possible challenge. The task is to. . .
The biggest issues with books like The Subsidiary often have to do with their underpinnings—when we learn that Georges Perec wrote La Disparition without once using the letter E, we are impressed. Imagine such a task! It takes a high. . .
Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his. . .
Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .
Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals is about the type of unique, indestructible, and often tragic loyalty only found in families. For a brief but stunningly mesmerizing 169 pages, Twenty-One Cardinals invited me in to the haunting and intimate world of the. . .
We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .