A C Grayling, chair of the Man Booker judging panel, has revealed there were "tears in the eyes" over the "difficult" judging meeting to whittle down the Man Booker shortlist, announced yesterday (9th September), predicting that the judges will "fall out" over the final choice.
Grayling presides over a panel including Erica Wagner, Jonathan Bate, Sarah Churchwell, Daniel Glaser and Alistair Niven.
Speaking at a party held at the Serpentine Gallery in London's Kensington Gardens last night to celebrate the shortlist announcement, Grayling said: "The judges are definitely going to fall out with one another as they choose the winner. It's such a rich year. What's striking for me is how flourishing the novel is, that it is so robust despite all the different ways we tell stories today. This bumper year has made it difficult [to choose the shortlist] - there were tears in the eyes – it was so, so difficult to get down to the final six."
Man Booker literary director Ion Trewin revealed that, at three hours and 40 minutes, the shortlist judging meeting was the longest such during his years with the prize, saying: "It's a testament to how strong a list it is."
One notable omission from the shortlist was David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks (Sceptre).
Grayling also took the opportunity to address media criticism of the prize longlist, saying: "When the longlist came out, there were comments in the press about the number of American authors, Commonwealth authors and women. We drew up the longlist first and only then looked at it from the point of view of gender and geography. It was the same with the shortlist. The books were chosen on their merits and it had nothing to do with tokenism. Fine writing in English, and publication in the UK, are the criteria from now on – a global prize, chosen on merit and merit alone."
Shortlisted authors Ali Smith, Neel Mukherjee and Howard Jacobson were present at the Serpentine Gallery event.
Yesterday the judges spoke about how the shortlist showed contemporary fiction was now in vogue, while shortlisted authors and publishers expressed their delight at inclusion.
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