The 2017 Tournament of Books Shortlist
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All the Birds in the SkyCharlie Jane Andershttp://www.powells.com/book/all-the-birds-in-the-sky-9780765379955?partnerid=44171&p_tiChildhood friends Patricia and Laurence didn’t expect to see each other after parting ways under mysterious circumstances in middle school. Now they’re adults, and the planet is falling apart. Laurence is an engineer working to avert catastrophic breakdown. Patricia is a graduate of a hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works to repair the world’s growing ailments. Little do they realize something bigger than them is determined to bring them together—to save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.
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The Throwback SpecialChris Bachelderhttp://www.powells.com/book/throwback-special-9780393353785?partnerid=44171&p_tiTwenty-two men gather every fall to painstakingly reenact the November 1985 play in which Joe Theismann had his leg horribly broken live on Monday Night Football. Over the course of a weekend, these fans reveal their secret hopes, fears, and passions as they choose roles, spend a long night of the soul preparing for the play, and finally enact their bizarre ritual for what may be the last time.
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The MothersBrit Bennetthttp://www.powells.com/book/the-mothers-9780399184512?partnerid=44171&p_tiMourning her mother’s recent suicide, 17-year-old Nadia takes up with Luke, 21, a former football star. The pregnancy that results—and the subsequent cover-up—have an impact that goes far beyond youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including her best friend Aubrey, the years move quickly. Soon, the three are adults, living in debt to their choices that summer, and dogged by the question: What if they had chosen differently?
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MoonglowMichael Chabonhttp://www.powells.com/book/moonglow-9780062225559?partnerid=44171&p_tiA speculative history that attempts to reconstruct the mysterious origins and fate of Chabon Scientific, Co., an authentic mail-order novelty company whose ads for scale models of human skeletons, combustion engines, and space rockets were once a fixture in the back pages of Esquire, Popular Mechanics, and Boy’s Life. It is a tale of, above all, the destructive impact—and the creative power—of the keeping of secrets and the telling of lies.
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Sudden DeathÁlvaro Enriguehttp://www.powells.com/book/sudden-death-a-novel-9781594633461?partnerid=44171&p_tiIn a brutal tennis match that could decide the fate of the world, the painter Caravaggio and the poet Quevedo battle it out. In England, Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII behead Anne Boleyn, and her crafty executioner transforms her legendary locks into the most sought-after tennis balls of the time. And in a remote Mexican colony a bishop reads Thomas More’s Utopia and thinks that instead of a parody, it’s a manual.
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We Love You, Charlie FreemanKaitlyn Greenidge
http://www.powells.com/book/we-love-you-charlie-freeman-a-novel-9781616206444?partnerid=44171&p_ti
The Freemans have been invited to rural Massachusetts to take part in an experiment: Live in an apartment with Charlie, a young chimp, teach him sign language, and welcome him into their family. Isolated in their new, nearly all-white community by race and their strange living situation, the Freemans come undone. When one of them discovers the history of the institute’s questionable studies, the secrets of the past begin to invade the present.
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HomegoingYaa Gyasihttp://www.powells.com/book/homegoing-9781101947135?partnerid=44171&p_tiEffia and Esi are born into different villages in 18th-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, Esi is imprisoned in the castle’s dungeons, sold into the Gold Coast’s slave trade, and shipped off to America. Over the next two centuries, their descendents alternately struggle: between the slave trade and British colonization in Africa, and from the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of 20th-century Harlem, to the present day.
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The NixNathan Hillhttp://www.powells.com/book/the-nix-9781101946619?partnerid=44171&p_tiSamuel Andresen-Anderson—college professor, stalled writer—has a Nix of his own: his mother, Faye. He hasn’t seen her in decades, not since she left when he was a boy. Now she’s back, having committed an absurd crime that electrifies the nightly news, the internet, and a politically divided country. The media paints Faye as a radical hippie with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother was an ordinary girl who married her high-school sweetheart. Which version of his mother is true? Two facts are certain: She’s facing some serious charges, and she needs Samuel’s help.
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The VegetarianHan Kanghttp://www.powells.com/book/the-vegetarian-9781101906118?partnerid=44171&p_tiYeong-hye and her husband had lived an ordinary life, but when splintering, graphic images start haunting her thoughts, she decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision to embrace a more “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. Her now-dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether.
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High DiveJonathan Leehttp://www.powells.com/book/high-dive-9781101874592?partnerid=44171&p_tiIn September 1984, a bomb was planted at the Grand Hotel in the seaside town of Brighton, England, set to explode in 24 days when the British prime minister would be staying there. Over the next four weeks, as the PM’s arrival draws closer, three lives will be transformed: Dan, a young IRA explosives expert; Moose, a former star athlete, now the deputy hotel manager; and Freya, his teenage daughter.
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Sweet Lamb of HeavenLydia Millethttp://www.powells.com/book/sweet-lamb-of-heaven-9780393285543?partnerid=44171&p_tiFleeing her political hopeful husband, the cold and unfaithful Ned, Anna and their six-year-old daughter go into hiding in a run-down motel on the Maine coast. But the longer they stay, the less the guests in the dingy motel look like typical tourists—and the less Ned resembles a typical candidate. As his pursuit of Anna and their child moves from threatening to criminal, Ned begins to alter his wife’s world in ways she never could have imagined.
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The Sport of KingsC. E. Morganhttp://www.powells.com/book/sport-of-kings-a-novel-9780374281083?partnerid=44171&p_tiHellsmouth, an indomitable Thoroughbred with the blood of Triple Crown winners in her veins, runs for the glory of the Forge family, one of Kentucky’s oldest and most powerful dynasties. Henry Forge has partnered with his daughter, Henrietta, in an endeavor of raw obsession: to breed the next Secretariat. But when Allmon Shaughnessy, an ambitious young black man, comes to work on their farm, the violence of the Forges’ history are brought starkly into view.
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Version ControlDexter Palmerhttp://www.powells.com/book/version-control-9780307907592?partnerid=44171&p_tiRebecca has reclaimed her life, finding her way out of her depression following a tragedy years ago. She spends her days working for the dating site where she first met her husband. But she has a persistent sense everything around her is somewhat off-kilter. Meanwhile, her husband’s dedication to his invention (which he would prefer you not call a “time machine”) has effectively stalled his career. But he may be closer to success than either of them can possibly imagine.
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Grief Is the Thing With FeathersMax Porter
http://www.powells.com/book/grief-is-the-thing-with-feathers-9781555977412?partnerid=44171&p_ti
In the wake of his wife’s sudden death, a husband their two sons are visited by Crow. This self-described “sentimental bird,” who “finds humans dull except in grief,” threatens to stay with the wounded family until they no longer need him. As the pain of loss lessens, Crow’s efforts are rewarded and the little unit of three begins to recover.
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Mister MonkeyFrancine Prosehttp://www.powells.com/book/mister-monkey-9780062397836?partnerid=44171&p_tiMister Monkey—a screwball children’s musical about a pet chimpanzee—is the kind of family favorite that survives far past its prime. Margot, who plays the chimp’s lawyer, knows the production is dreadful, and bemoans the failure of her acting career. She’s settled into the drudgery of playing a humiliating part—until the day she receives a mysterious letter from an anonymous admirer.
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My Name Is Lucy BartonElizabeth Strouthttp://www.powells.com/book/my-name-is-lucy-barton-9780812979527?partnerid=44171&p_tiLucy Barton, a writer, married with two young children, is in the hospital in New York City due to an infection from a simple appendix operation. Her mother, whom she hasn’t seen in years, comes from Amgash, Ill., to visit her, and sits by her bedside, reminiscing about people she and Lucy know from Lucy’s childhood, before Lucy went off to college and never returned.
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Black WaveMichelle Teahttp://www.powells.com/book/black-wave-9781558619395?partnerid=44171&p_tiFleeing drugs, disastrous romance, and ’90s San Francisco, Michelle heads for LA. After it’s announced the world will end in a year, life becomes increasingly weird. Living in an abandoned bookstore, dating Matt Dillon, and keeping an eye on the apocalypse, Michelle begins a new novel, a sprawling exploration to complement her promises of maturity and responsibility. But as she tries to make queer love and art without succumbing to self-destructive vice, Michelle wonders how much she’ll have to compromise her artistic process if she’s going to properly ride out doomsday.
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The Underground RailroadColson Whiteheadhttp://www.powells.com/book/the-underground-railroad-9780385542364?partnerid=44171&p_tiCora is a slave in Georgia. When Caesar, a recent arrival, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take a terrifying risk and escape. Here, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city whose placid surface masks an insidious scheme. Cora again flees, state by state, seeking true freedom.
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