The 2016 Tournament of Books - Quarterfinals, Day Two

The 2016 Tournament of Books  -  Quarterfinals, Day Two

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy vs. Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

When I was on the radio a couple weeks ago, I said that if people read only one book from the Tournament, they should read The Turner House, so my verdict on today's matchup is probably not very shocking.

I really liked Our Souls at Night. I found it a very empathetic and quiet look at two elderly people falling in love. It's told from a reserve, so that we're watching them from the outside - like the busybodies in the small town watch them. It's a perfect small novel.

The Turner House, though, is a big novel. It's a novel that's about a family but it's also about the city of Detroit, about community, about social change. It's an epic story. And some of it is simply that I prefer the kind of book that the Turner House is. That's to say, a larger story, but also a story where the personal stories of individuals (who are always individuals, never stereotypes or thinly drawn figures to prop up the plot) that have a lot more resonance beyond just their own lives.

Also as one who has lived in places that are considered urban areas where little happens and is considered a wasteland by some, but is in fact a dynamic place where people live, I really appreciated and enjoyed the portrait of Detroit that Flournoy presented. It's something missing when people often write about Detroit.

Also it's a family story where they feel like a family. This is always hard to do but she manages to make them similar enough to be related, different enough to be individuals, a believable dynamic when they're gathered in a group and then in smaller configurations. My second reading of the book left me in awe of how well Flournoy was able to do that.

My Verdict:  The Turner House

At the Tournament:  The Turner House


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