Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Booker Judge Criticises 'Highbrow' Male Panels; 1.scathing: Louise Doughty, One of the Judges of Tonight's Booker Prize 2.booker Contender: Aravind Adiga

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Booker Judge Criticises 'Highbrow' Male Panels; 1.scathing: Louise Doughty, One of the Judges of Tonight's Booker Prize 2.booker Contender: Aravind Adiga

Article excerpt

Byline: ELLEN WIDDUP

ONE of this year's Man Booker Prize judges has criticised male academics who sit on literary panels, claiming they pick "highbrow" novels over readable ones.

Louise Doughty, author of five novels, launched her scathing attack ahead of the awards ceremony tonight.

She said male academics should not be invited to judge the selection because they tried to pick titles to impress their colleagues.

"Academics always have their eye on their reputations and always have a vested interest to pick someone as literary and obscure as possible," she said. "I think academics are always looking over their shoulder." She added that the men in particular tended to make judgments based on "how well the winning book reflected on them", rather than considering the best entry.

"I think women academics are a hell of a lot less poncey than male ones," she added.

Despite their popularity, many writers such as Sebastian Faulks, Mark Haddon and Robert Harris have never won the Booker.

Doughty said it was purely those authors' accessibility which counted against them.

But John Sutherland, Emeritus professor of English literature at University College London, who was chairman of the prize in 2005, said her comments were sexist.

"To say male academics is as offensive as it would be to say too many female novelists are chosen as panellists," he said. …

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