Behind the Booker

John Dugdale reveals that it took four — or possibly five — rounds of voting before Alan Hollinghurst emerged as the winner of this year’s Booker prize:

Two judges (thought to be Tibor Fischer and Robert Macfarlane) were . . . for Hollinghurst, two (thought to be Rowan Pelling and Smith) for David Mitchell. Economist literary editor Fiammetta Rocco wanted Colm Toibin, but when he dropped out, Hollinghurst, decisively, was her second choice. The author Picador poached from Random House is, incidentally, the first British winner since 1998.

SoHo House Booker PartyPicador published two of this year’s shortlisted contenders — the Hollinghurst and the Toibin novels — so the publisher booked two floors of SoHo House for a glitzy party happily devoid of the “fierce infighting and very public feuds” that have characterized past Booker contests:

[A]t Soho House the Toibin and Hollinghurst factions mingled relatively easily. It may have helped that most people admitted to not having read the books.

In the Observer, Robert McCrum grumbles about “the degree to which otherwise sensible publishing houses, committed to the best writing in the market, now pin their hopes on an event that is, from a cool business point of view, as reliable as a spin on a roulette wheel, conducted in a blaze of intoxicating national publicity.”


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