From Thursday's New York Times:
"The First Annual TMN Tournament of Books, presented by The Morning News (TMN), a daily online magazine (themorningnews.org/tob), and Powells.com, an online bookstore, is under way. The writers aren't hacks and they aren't in a stadium. The fans don't roar and they don't judge. But the Web tournament is set up exactly like an N.C.A.A. basketball tournament, with ladders, seeds and head-to-head contests.
Round after round, novels from 2004 are pitted against each other until only one of the original 16 is standing. The champion will be announced on Feb. 28. At that point its author may receive a live rooster, which has a cryptic connection to the brother of the writer David Sedaris.
Rosecrans Baldwin, a co-editor of The Morning News, and Kevin Guilfoile, one of its writers, said on its Web site that top seeds went "to books that were much hyped before or after publication," lower seeds to books that appeared on many best-of lists. The rest of the slots (almost half) went to novels that the magazine's editors and writers said they felt "passionate about." Each match has a single judge except the final one, which is judged collectively.
The process is arbitrary, but then so is any literary contest. "Arbitrariness is inherent in book awards," the creators say on their Web site. "The way books are nominated, the judges who consider them, the division of labor as the books are assessed - arbitrary, arbitrary, arbitrary, bordering on meaningless."
My Final Four: Runaway, Gilead, The Plot Against America, Cloud Atlas. This is real, by the way.