Which leading British author reduced two judges to giggles? Which Nobel laureate was dismissed as 'deplorable and dishonest'? And can anyone really read 100 novels in four months? As this year's Booker winner is announced, DJ Taylor offers a glimpse inside the judging room
It was an instructive half-hour, spent amid the freshly photocopied outpourings of practically every newspaper in the land and quite a few outside it. Rarely, it seemed, in the field of recent cultural endeavour, had quite so many disparate opinions been brought together under a single harness. On each successive Sunday in the months of August and September, it turned out, Robert McCrum had been regaling readers of the Observer books pages with a Booker prophecy of such staggering inaccuracy ("Amis can still win", etc) that one almost felt like ringing him up to impart a few off-the-record hints.