Hannah Edelstein, in a well balanced article that looks at the wider scene and considers the feelings of the writers, comes out in favour of Zadie Smith and the Willesden Committee's initial decision not to award the prize.
It's ... rather depressing to think that...the committee was simply not able to elicit the calibre of entries they were looking for.
But after pondering this teacup-sized storm, and despite my sympathy for the disappointed competitors, I actually think that it is kind of refreshing. Judging from the banter on the blogosphere every time a new longlist is announced, it's apparent that many think the returns of literary prizes are diminishing.
So I rather think it's time someone stood up and said that they weren't just going to hand out stacks of cash to writers just because the calendar requires it. Of course there are going to be periods when the output of writers is more fallow, so why not remark upon it, rather than bowing to the pressure to celebrate something - anything - for tradition's sake? I kind of admire Smith and the rest of the Willesden judges for being the ones to make that stand.
FULL GUARDIAN UNLIMITED ARTICLE HERE