The Morning News has unveiled the longlist for their 2020 Tournament of Books, which is almost certainly the only literary competition in the country where the winner receives livestock as a prize.
Sixty-two works of fiction have the potential to take home the Rooster, given annually to the winner of the March Madness-style tournament sponsored by the daily online magazine. In past years, victorious authors have been given the option to receive a real-life rooster as their prize, although it’s unclear if any have actually opted for that.
This year’s longlist features some titles that have become familiar to readers keeping up with literary award season. Both winners of this year’s Booker Prize, Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments and Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other, made the longlist, as did Colson Whitehead’s Kirkus Prize-winning The Nickel Boys. All five fiction finalists for the National Book Awards will also participate in the tournament.
Other notable titles up for the award include Jami Attenberg’s All This Could Be Yours, Lucy Ellmann’s Ducks, Newburyport, Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s Fleishman Is in Trouble, and Chia-Chia Lin’s The Unpassing.
The Tournament of Books has historically been friendly to books from independent presses, and this year is no exception. Small-press books making the longlist this year include Kristen Arnett’s Mostly Dead Things(Tin House), Richard Chiem’s King of Joy (Soft Skull), Johanna Stoberock’s Pigs(Red Hen), and Mimi Lok’s Last of Her Name(Kaya).
The longlist will be winnowed down in December to a 16-book shortlist, and the tournament will commence in March, at which point you’ll be able to start an office pool, assuming you work with a bunch of book nerds.
Michael Schaub is an Austin, Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.