This is what I said at the beginning of the month:
Only Mantel absolutely deserves to be on the shortlist; although I'd be happy enough to see Barker, Beauman and Moore go through. Of the rest some are interesting more-or-less failures, some are pretty bad, and some are so bad (Frayn, Levy, I'm looking at you) as to make the reader slap his/her forehead in disbelief, Wallace-and-Gromit-style, with his/her meaty plasticine hand.I added: 'This is the shortlist I expect to see from yon farrago of titles: Barker; Brink; Joyce; Moore; Self; Mantel.'
Today the Man Booker shortlist was announced: Tan Twan Eng; Deborah Levy; Hilary Mantel; Alison Moore; Will Self; Jeet Thayil. 50% strike-rate for me, and a poor shortlist for everybody else. Mantel's and Moore's are good novels; the other four are all over-written, in various ways (viz: Eng, overpurpled; Levy, pseud's-corner pretentious and often actively bad; Self, clogged and tiresome and let-me-show-off-my-cleverness-by-flinging-faeces-at-you; Thayil, just tiresome and self-consciously over-poeticised). It suggests that the judges cannot tell the difference between good writing and over-writing. Which is to say, they have no taste. Barker and Beauman, in particular, have good reason to feel aggrieved.
That said, I find, looking back, that when I add-up the total amount of shit I give, said total turns out to be zero. I'm a man. These are some books. Man. Book. Blah. Prize.