"Our shortlist may confuse the book trade," the head judge, Philippa Gregory, said.
Or might just go to show that when it comes to fiction,"best" is entirely subjective.
Our Tash is there again - on the shortlist for best first novel, along with his friend and UEA coursemate, Diana Evans. Another first-novel nominee, Rachel Zadock is an amazing literarty cinderella:
(She) was working as a waiter when she had an unusually dire day with the novel she was trying to write. "I gave up and did something I think is death to anyone who works from home, I turned on the TV," she said. On Channel 4 the Richard & Judy show was announcing a "how to get published" contest. "To someone as superstitious as me, that's a sign, so I sent something off." ... Her novel, Gem Squash Tokoloshe, was singled out for discussion. This led to a £20,000 contract with Pan Macmillan, which has enabled her to write full-time. The Whitbread judges were impressed by its "powerful evocation of a child's-eye view of rural South Africa".It's the kind of break most novice writers can only dream of.