Readersforum's Blog

March 27, 2013

Literary death match: X Factor for books

Seven years after its launch, Literary Death Match is still pulling in bumper crowds. Rupert Hawksley got a ringside seat.

One boxing ring, four prize fighters, a rowdy, lager swilling crowd and … a whole lot of books. Welcome to Literary Death Match, a lively reading event that pits four authors against each other in a knockout competition. Each has exactly seven minutes to impress a panel of judges by reading an extract from their latest work with points awarded for “Literary Merit”, “Performance” and the cryptic “Intangibles”.

When Adrian Todd Zuniga launched the project in 2006, it caused a stir among critics who applauded his anarchic efforts to modernise the way in which we approach literature. The evenings began to take on a Bacchanalian nature, which attracted a young, avant-garde crowd. It wasn’t long before the likes of Moby and comedian Peter Serafinowicz were on board passing judgement on the brightest young authors from Ned Beauman to Christopher Brookmyre.

Such immediate success saw the project expand rapidly and to date, there have been 268 shows staged across the world, from Boston to Beijing, with no fewer than 68 performances last year alone. The seventh anniversary of its launch and the year’s first London show seemed the perfect opportunity to see it for myself.

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