Letter: Booker thoughts

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The Independent Culture
Sir: May I say that I did not "make an extended attack" on the Booker Prize ("Winner attacks Booker for its miserly awards", 7 September). I have no strong feelings one way or the other about the size of the prize money or the fees paid to judges. What I did do was to go to a publishers' party last week. The words you attribute to me inside quotes are not my words, but those of a journalist attempting to paraphrase my part in a three-way conversation that took place there. So, for the record, let me say that:

1. I have no idea whether or not some recent Booker verdicts are "dodgy", since I find, looking through the past 10 years' shortlists, I have read just three winners (one of which I wrote myself) and one shortlisted book.

2. I do not think how well a Booker winner sells is any reflection on the judges' decision.

3. I do not for one moment believe novelists deserve to be paid more than teachers, or anybody else (though the majority of novelists would be delighted to earn the equivalent of a teacher's salary each year). I have no idea where this "teacher" comparison comes from.

4. If asked my opinion (as I was that night), I'd tend to agree with "my" words that the prize money should now be raised - to, say, pounds 50,000 - and more crucially, that the judges (many of whom are freelance or self- employed) be paid a proper fee for a job which, if done properly, should take up at least a third of a working year.

But as I say, I've never thought much about the matter until just now.


London NW11