ONE OF THE incidental diversions of judging the Man Booker Prize - a task that occupied me, on and off, from early June to mid-October - is the chance to inspect what gets written about the prize. Little of this torrent of material, alas, was calculated to enhance one's self-esteem. One was a hopeless elitist. One was a closet middlebrow. One was shamelessly biased against anything emanating from the worthy margins of our literary culture. One was using the worthy margins of our literary culture as a stick with which to beat the established talents, of whom one was pathologically envious. One felt, in fact, rather as Iain Duncan Smith must feel whenever he reads a leading article in The Independent: whatever you do will be found fault with, so there is no real need to alarm yourself about it.
As for what got written, leaving aside the knockabout effusions of journalists not generally known for their interventions in the world of polite literature, what might be called the Broadsheet Newspaper Booker articles ad two main angles. There his the usual bleating about making the prize more 'popular', or as some character in the Evening Standard put it, plumping for 'the books