Tibor Fischer (of “favorite uncle masturbating in the schoolyard” fame) acknowledges John Banville’s talents but dismisses The Sea as a “nebulous, oversubtle choice for the folks in Hampstead rather than the general reader.”
A former Booker Prize judge himself, Fischer offers some insight into the highly merit-based decision-making process:
one of the most important considerations as a Booker judge is: who do you want to hang out with? Whose dinner parties do you want to be sitting at? That’s why the inclusion of Julian Barnes (dinner party-giver extraordinaire), Kazuo Ishiguro and Zadie Smith on the shortlist wasn’t a surprise, and why the exclusion of Ian McEwan and Salman Rushdie was (but they had their long-listing so you can still scoff the sushi together at the book launches).
Booker chair John Sutherland defends this year’s award to Banville’s “deeply divisive” book, noting that the reviews
have split between those who genuflect to the novel as a high point of fictional art (a view with which I concur) and those, such as Tibor Fischer, who slag it off as something to go in the rubbish bin with Martin Amis’s Yellow Dog.