The Guardian’s Great American Novelist Tournament Continues

  • Justin Stephani
  • December 19, 2013

Saul Bellow, Raymond Chandler, Vladimir Nabokov, and Kurt Vonnegut enter the ring this week.

The Guardian’s Great American Novelist Tournament Continues



In the last two days, The Guardian’s books section has picked up the pace of its slowly unfolding Great American Novelist Tournament. Beginning last July with 32 finalists, more knockout matches have taken place this week, starting with Saul Bellow’s Herzog vs. Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye, and yesterday’s matchup of Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire vs. Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of

As odd as it sounds for the prestigious British publication—which has been ruffling red, white, and blue feathers for some time now with the Edward Snowden leaks—to expend significant effort assessing the best American
novelists from the past 100 years, it has been made even stranger in bookish circles recently, given the resentment of U.K. readers toward the Man Booker Prize’s decision to begin accepting submissions from the United States.

Nevertheless, Matthew Spencer forges on diligently. (Remember: No novelist with fewer than four fiction titles is considered, leaving out contemporary luminaries such as David Foster Wallace and Marilynne Robinson.) The progress is a little difficult to follow as there is no bracket or visual guide, but then, cataloging direct comparisons of fantastic books doesn’t really need much of a rhyme or reason to pique readers’ interest, now does it?

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