2024 Tournament of Books: Big Swiss vs The Lost Journals of Sacajawea

Big Swiss was the only book in this year’s round that I’d read before the short list was announced thanks to my reading last summer’s Camp Tournament of Books selections. My thoughts on the book from last summer: “I found myself at turns fascinated and bored. The setup for the story was brilliant, but there didn’t feel like enough there there for it to fully satisfy. I’m sure other readers might feel differently.” The setup was an intriguing one: The narrator transcribes recordings of a local therapist’s sessions and becomes obsessed with one of his patients, the titular ”Big Swiss.” Chaos, naturally, ensues. But as I thought back on it, I just had a hard time getting into it.

The Lost Journals of Sacajawea on the other hand, is a book that dares the reader not to finish it. Earling doesn’t handhold the non-Indigenous reader in her narrative beyond a brief preface indicating why some words appear in grey italics. It’s a difficult read, but one that left me absolutely obsessed. It’s my pick to advance.

My judgment on the judgment

Once again, my pick matches the pick from today’s judge, Lucy Tan, but I feel like in this instance, her reasoning was wrong. It’s not just that The Lost Journals of Sacajawea is a book worthy of more attention than Big Swiss but that it’s a better book, albeit one that’s a much more difficult read.






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