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Patrick deWitt wins the Tournament of Books

2nd April 2012

Patrick deWitt's The Sisters Brothers has won the annual Tournament of Books, a knockout competition in the US that pits critically acclaimed and prize-winning titles from the previous year against each other.

The offbeat western triumphed in the face of stiff competition from a number of last year's most successful novels to win the prize, including Julian Barnes' Man Booker Prize winner The Sense of an Ending and Tea Obreht's The Tiger's Wife, which scooped the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction.

The competition is organised by US publication the Morning News and involves books being randomly paired with other titles in a knockout tournament format, then judged by a panel of authors who choose their favourite title from the two.

The books receiving the most votes in each tie progress to the next round, until only two books remain, with this year's final being contested by The Sisters Brothers and Teju Cole's debut novel Open City, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award earlier this year and has also been nominated for the National Book Critics' Circle Award.

After 16 votes were cast, deWitt's novel was victorious by a margin of ten to six, with the judges praising the novel's successful juxtaposition of humour and violence.

Judge and author Emma Straub said it was difficult choosing a winner, but sided with the western, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize last year but was pipped to the post by The Sense of an Ending.

'It is with some joy and trepidation that my final choice is the shoot-em-up page-turner The Sisters Brothers, which I galloped through in a single sitting,' she added.

Other acclaimed titles taking part in the tournament included Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones, which triumphed at the 2011 National Book Awards, The Cat's Table by former Booker Prize and Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Ondaatje, and Haruki Murakami's 1Q84, which was longlisted for last year's Man Asian Literary Prize.

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