English author Julian Barnes, who has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for fiction three times before, finally won the prestigious award Tuesday, despite having once dismissed it as “posh bingo.”
Published by Random House imprint Jonathan Cape, “The Sense of an Ending” follows the character of Tony, a man who seems ordinary until he realizes his memories of a long-ago tragedy are unreliable. The Guardian in a review called it “a highly wrought meditation on ageing, memory and regret.”
In the following excerpt from the novella, Tony remembers his youth:
In the meantime, we were book-hungry, sex-hungry, meritocratic, anarchistic. All political and social systems appeared to us corrupt, yet we declined to consider an alternative other than hedonistic chaos....
If Alex had read Russell and Wittgenstein, Adrian had read Camus and Nietzsche. I had read George Orwell and Aldous Huxley; Colin had read Baudelaire and Dostoevsky. This is only a slight caricature.
Yes, of course we were pretentious — what else is youth for?
Read a longer excerpt from “The Sense of an Ending” at NPR.
Reuters reports that Stella Rimington, a former British spy chief and chair of the panel of judges this year, told reporters that while the book was short, the panel chose it because it “crammed into this very short space a great deal of information you don't get out of a first reading.”
Barnes will receive a check for 50,000 pounds ($80,000) for winning.
Other authors shortlisted for the Booker Prize this year include Carol Birch for “Jamrach's Menagerie,” Patrick deWitt for “The Sisters Brothers,” Esi Edugyan for “Half-Blood Blues,” Stephen Kelman for “Pigeon English” and A.D. Miller for “Snowdrops.”