When I was a Booker judge myself a few years ago, I had to study his contender, Shalimar the Clown, closely. Did I, on finally giving one of his novels full attention, find myself converted? ‘Fraid not. I slogged through, a militant opponent of every page. I found the overloaded sentences and overbearing manner insufferable. And I didn’t believe a word of it, which never helps.
Now it seems that I have been proved an ass once more, by popular vote, no less. But this Booker of Bookers was an odd affair. A panel of judges first selected a shortlist of six, leaving off such genuinely popular titles as The Life of Pi and The Remains of the Day. Then just that six were put to the vote. Even with online voting and considerable publicity, only 7,800 people bothered to choose the inevitable winner. So, not that popular a vote.