The Guardian Review reports that Daisy Goodwin, the chair of the judges for this year’s Orange prize is writing about the books that have been submitted on twitter. (twitter.com/daisygoodwinuk apparently, I haven’t been there and I’ve no intention of going.) Admittedly, you can’t say much in the length of a tweet, but nevertheless I am appalled.
When I chaired the Clarke Award both I and many of the judges reviewed regularly, so I had a rule. Any of us could review any novel, so long as we didn’t specifically link it to the award, until the shortlist meeting; but none of us should review anything that was on the shortlist. One of the purposes of awards is to get people talking about the books, but discussion along the lines of: suchandsuch a judge is in favour of suchandsuch a novel is actually unhelpful both for the judging and for the general discussion.
Even with that rule in place I tended, so far as possible, to review short story collections, non-fiction or fantasy, anything that would not be seen as being in contention for the award, for the full 11 years I chaired the jury. I’m not sure if anybody noticed, but it felt like the right thing to me. Of course I’m very austere on things like that.