Delivering the Booker longlist

<p>After almost five hours of discussion, albeit punctuated by a decent lunch at L&rsquo;Etoile, we delivered our long list in time for tea on Tuesday.<br />
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The atmosphere in the judging room was somewhere between a book club and a maternity ward. What could be more agreeable than a freeform discussion of 110 novels, when you know that everyone else in the room has read them all and &ndash; even better &ndash; is obliged to display at least a polite interest in your exciting views? The only fly in the conversational ointment is that you are under the cosh to deliver 13 favourites at the end of it all.<br />
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Around five o&rsquo;clock we gave birth, with Ion Trewin as an unlikely bearded midwife. Actually we were about 90% of the way there a couple of hours before, but the last couple of places proved hard to fill. Not because we couldn&rsquo;t find any worthy candidates, or because we were at penknibs drawn, but because there were another few candidates whom we would have been happy to see included. Should one tell the nearly men and women that they were oh so close to the list? I suspect that would be more cruel than kind, so our ten lips remain sealed.<br />
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The early reaction to the list has been roughly as we expected. We were well aware that some better known names didn&rsquo;t make the cut and that choosing four first novels would be a surprise. In fact we slightly surprised ourselves to find that was they case : all four stood up well and no allowance was made for learner drivers.</p>
<p><em>To read the rest of Howard Davies&rsquo; blog please visit <a href="http://www.themanbookerprize.com/prize/thisyear/chair">www.themanbookerp...