Book Bracket Fever

Can you feel the excitement building? The brackets are out, the teams are gearing up, everyone is ready for some serious March Madness! I love book season!
Wait...what did you think I meant? The only season and the only bracket worth caring about is The Morning News Tournament of Books! Any other "sport" pales in comparison. 
The tournament has been in play for 12 years, and for four of those years I've been providing you with my predictions and commentary, sometimes hitting the basket and sometimes hitting the rim. Last year was my best year for stats - I called it right down to the winner, which was tough because two of my favorite books (Station Eleven and All the Light We Cannot See) were in the finals.
This year, the tournament and I are shaking things up a little bit. ToB is adding a "play-in winner," which is similar to its Zombie rounds of the past. Two books will compete before the actual tournament, vying for a chance to enter the Big Show - kind of like a wild card match.
I'm also adding a spin - this year in the form of my daughter Aana, a book-obsessed geek who is reading almost as many books as I am each year. She'll bring a different perspective because her tastes aren't the same as mine (ahem, short stories), and we might mix it up a little in who we think will win each match. She's definitely a wild card. 
So what teams - or books - are in play? Each year the committee throws a ton of nominations into the mix to create its long list, which this year offered 86 selections, and then through some form of subjective hocus pocus, ToB narrows the list down to 17 books. In a few weeks, Aana and I will debate whether something important was left off that list and if we actually agree that all of the books on the short list deserve to be there (spoiler alert: a big no from us both on John Irving).

Here are the contenders - links will take you to Powell's Books, the sponsor for the tournament:
Ban en Banlieue, Bhanu Kapil
Bats of the Republic, by Zachary Thomas Dodson  
The Book of Aron, Jim Shepard 
Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff 
The Invaders, by Karolina Waclawiak 
A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara 
The New World, by Chris Adrian and Eli Horowitz 
Oreo, by Fran Ross 
Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf 
The Sellout, by Paul Beatty 
The Story of My Teeth, by Valeria Luiselli 
The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen 
The Tsar of Love and Techno, by Anthony Marra 
The Turner House, by Angela Flournoy 
The Whites, by Richard Price
And then we have our two play-in contenders: Anne Tyler's A Spool of Blue Thread and John Irving's Avenue of Mysteries (which I can tell you right now Aana and I do not predict to win anything).
So there you have it, the 2016 Tournament of Books! Are there any selections you think should have been included? Any books on here that you've already read? Let me know in the comments below! And look for the first installment from Aana and me soon!
Meanwhile, here is a copy of the bracket so you can fill it in and start some friendly wagers with your friends and neighbors - all of whom I'm sure are ready to play/read along. Right?

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