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Welcome to the Meanjin Tournament of Books 2012

The Tournament of Books is back!

From next Monday until the end of December we will be pitting Australian short stories against each other in a battle that has been described in the past as ‘gruesome’, ‘vicious’ and ‘a bit mean’. Sixteen illustrious judges are given two short stories to read, they must pick the victor of the two, and tell us why. Victors go on to the next round. Losers fall by the wayside, consigned to the dustbin of history.

As with last year the shortlist was chosen through a process of consultation then whittled down by us through non-scientific means to come up with what we think is a wonderful and varied list of gut-wrenching, tear-jerking, laugh-making, wistful, melancholy, complex, clever and lovely short stories by Australian writers, from 1896 right up to 2012.

Keep track at home, find and read the stories yourselves, follow the commentary for each match from Ben Pobjie and Jess McGuire, and don’t forget to tell us what you think.

So now all that remains is to present to you in no particular order the shortlist for the Meanjin Tournament of Books 2012:

‘Squeakers Mate’, Barbara Baynton

‘The Promise’, Tony Birch

‘Five Acre Virgin’, Elizabeth Jolley

‘Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice’, Nam Le

‘A,B,C,D—Z’, Murray Bail

‘American Dreams’, Peter Carey

‘Static’, Cate Kennedy

‘The Annual Conference of 1930 and South Coast Dada’, Frank Moorhouse

‘Hunting the Wild Pineapple’, Thea Astley

‘Today on Dr Phil’, Tom Cho

‘Darling Odile’, Beverley Farmer

‘Any Dog’, Sonya Hartnett

‘The Drover’s Wife’, Henry Lawson

‘In the Mornings We Would Sometimes Hear Him Singing’, Josephine Rowe

‘It’s Too Difficult to Explain’, Tara June Winch

‘Happiness’, Katherine Susannah Prichard


Posted by Daniel Young
02 November at 08:46PM

great list, how exciting! have you considered providing some of the commentary in podcast form? that could be fun.

Posted by James Tierney
05 November at 01:37PM

Here's a list of the collections in which I found each of this year's Tournament of Books stories.

‘Squeakers Mate’ by Barbara Baynton [Bush Studies]

‘The Promise’ by Tony Birch [McSweeney’s 41]

‘Five Acre Virgin’ by Elizabeth Jolley [Five Acre Virgin and Other Stories]

‘Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice’ by Nam Le [The Boat]

‘A,B,C,D—Z’ by Murray Bail [The Drover's Wife and Other Stories]

‘American Dreams’ by Peter Carey [Exotic Pleasures]

‘Static’ by Cate Kennedy [Like a House on Fire]

‘The Annual Conference of 1930 and South Coast Dada’ by Frank Moorhouse [The Electrical Experience]

‘Hunting the Wild Pineapple’ by Thea Astley [Hunting the Wild Pineapple]

‘Today on Dr Phil’ by Tom Cho [Look Who’s Morphing]

‘Darling Odile’ by Beverley Farmer [Milk]

‘Any Dog’ by Sonya Hartnett [Best Australian Stories 2003]

‘The Drover’s Wife’ by Henry Lawson [The Drover’s Wife & Other Classic Stories]

‘In the Mornings We Would Sometimes Hear Him Singing’ by Josephine Rowe [Tarcutta Wake]

‘It’s Too Difficult to Explain’ by Tara June Winch [McSweeney’s 41]

‘Happiness’ by Katherine Susannah Prichard [The Penguin Book of Australian Short Stories]

Hope it helps.

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Tom Cho Vs. Thea Astley in the Meanjin Tournament of Books Grand Final


Second Semi-Final Tom Cho Vs Jospehine Rowe judged by Melinda Harvey


First Semi-Final Thea Astley Vs Nam Le judged by Ronnie Scott


R2 M4 ‘Today on Dr Phil’ Vs. ‘Five Acre Virgin’ judged by First Dog


R2 M3 ‘In the Mornings We Would Sometimes Hear Him Singing’ Vs. ‘American Dreams’ judged by Melissa Cranenburgh