This is very cool. I was rooting for Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, which I adored (and in my oft-stated and dogmatic personal opinion, Ishiguro is probably the best novelist writing in English today), but Banville is a great writer too. Haven't read this one, but I especially liked his recent thoughtfully negative review in the NYRB of Ian McEwan's latest; my favorite novel of his is the altogether excellent The Untouchable, I've read three or four others that I'm not so crazy about but there is no doubt that Banville is a superb stylist with an interesting and distinctly intellectual sensibility which I approve of without necessarily always enjoying. It was a good short-list, too.
I am determined next year to do a Booker long-list stunt-blogging thing (someone did that this year and I was consumed with envy, I can't seem to find the link though). It would take someone helping me get all the books, it would cost a fortune to buy them esp. since a number are either published only in England or else not yet published, but if I didn't have to do all the footwork obtaining them I would definitely be up for reading everything on the longlist between the first announcement and the shortlist one. You know, you could read a few things in advance on spec, that sort of thing (probably about half the list can be predicted in advance, most years). It is one of my not-so-secret ambitions to be a Booker Prize judge one day, wouldn't it be fun? (Of course I would also like to write a novel that would make it onto at least the longlist, but that seems a more vainglorious ambition. Both are probably equally unlikely.)