This was an uplifting year for debate about fiction. The people chosen to judge the Man Booker Prize talked a lot of nonsense and, rather than being countenanced, they were rounded on. Meanwhile, novelists excluded from the prize lists found themselves in desirable company: like everyone who has read it, I was astonished by Adam Mars-Jones's Cedilla (Faber & Faber, £20); Philip Hensher's talent was evident on every page of King of the Badgers (Fourth Estate, £18.99); in its less momentous way,David Miller's Today was beautiful (Atlantic Books, £12.99).
Beyond fiction, three books stood out - James Wolcott's Lucking Out: My Life Getting Down and Semi-Dirty in Seventies New York (Doubleday, $25.95), Stewart Lee's The If You Prefer a Milder Comedian, Please Ask for One EP (Faber & Faber, £7.99) and The Age of Movies (Library of America, $40/£25), a selection of Pauline Kael's film criticism.
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