It's not exactly The Night Before Christmas but here's the story I tell every year around this time.
A few years ago I was up late at night drinking with some friends of mine at The Morning News and we were talking about how much we enjoy literary awards in spite of the fact they are also silly and arbitrary. The idea that we should accept the word of any small group of people--people in most cases whose names we don't even know--about something so subjective as the best literature of the year is pretty ridiculous, and forcing authors to compete against each other is just sort of stupid on its face. Anyway, the bottles drained pretty quickly and by the next morning we had the rough outlines of something called The Tournament of Books, in which we would seed the most celebrated books of the year in a March Madness tournament-type bracket and pit those novels against each other in a "Battle Royale of Literary Exellence." For reasons that are probably now forgotten along with the name of that shiraz, we decided we'd present the winning author with a live rooster.
The tournament is in its fourth season now (see 2004, 2005, 2006) and it has evolved into a major event with corporate sponsors and celebrity judges. It's also great fun and every year I discover two or three unbelievably good novels from the tourney (look back through The Outfit archives for any of the earlier posts by either Marcus or me about the winner of the first ToB, David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas). This year's competition won't begin until March, but the fellows over at TMN are currently narrowing the list of competitors. And as always, they are asking for help.
Head over there right now and nominate your favorite book from 2007 (you can actually nominate two). If we're about anything over here at The Outfit it's that the best book of the year very well might be a suspense novel so don't be shy about nominating your favorite crime fiction. The only criteria is that it must be a novel published for the first time in 2007.
And after you've done that, come back here and tell us in the comments which books you've nominated. We can have a little hot stove debate until the real bloodshed begins.