D.J. Taylor was a judge on the 2003 Booker Prize but his own longlisting eight years later came, he says, as ‘a great surprise as I always fancy I know the type of book that Booker judges go for’.
In fact, it was his second time on the longlist, the first being in 1998 with Trespass. As well as being a novelist, Taylor is a critic and biographer whose life of George Orwell won the Whitbread Prize for biography in 2003. He has written widely about 20th-century British literary life, including The Vain Conceit, ‘which essentially said that the modern English novel is crap’. He is also a long-term contributor to the satirical magazine Private Eye, where his literary parodies were a response to ‘books that were crying out to be mocked rather than just reviewed’.