OK, you can moan about the hype, and complain about borderline selections and eccentric winners, but I’ve been grateful over the years for so many books that I’ve only encountered because of the Booker Prize. This year’s longlist does look tasty, a real variety with some interesting unknowns, but one familiar face. I’ve always enjoyed Jim Crace’s work, but have had an extra admiration since attending an Arvon course where he was one of the tutors. Honest, decent, totally down to earth but never dull. I don’t know why he keeps saying that he won’t write more novels, but I’m sure he’ll have good reasons. If this helps more readers to discover him before he goes, I don’t care whether or not he wins.