40 years of Booker Prizes, 40 judges dealing the dirt on how the winners were chosen. Sweet idea, and one only the Guardian would be able to pull off and give space to. I hope someone popped a switchblade under someone’s else’s chin somewhere in here.
2003 DJ Taylor
I can’t say that I enjoyed reading all the books – 113 of them, I believe, in that year – but there was a certain amount of pleasure to be gained from the attendant razzmatazz, the thought that for a very brief period in the year an artefact routinely overlooked by large swathes of an indifferent media was suddenly news. There were several memorable clashes of opinion, the funniest by far coming when the chair, John Carey, trying desperately to persuade us of the merits of Martin Amis’s Yellow Dog, read aloud from a paragraph describing the death-throes of a dying fly, at which point Francine Stock and I caught each other’s eye across the table and began to giggle. The judging process was pretty much a waste of time as all four of the other judges arrived at the longlist meeting convinced that DBC Pierre’s Vernon God Little was one of the great masterpieces of the early 21st century, whereas I thought that it was a promising first novel. This meant that the final judging session lasted a bare 10 minutes, after which I had to sit discussing the existence (or non-existence) of God with AC Grayling, a subject on which both of us hold strong views.
Dude, the switchblade! The switchblade!