Man Booker Prize won by Julian Barnes on fourth attempt

Man Booker Prize won by Julian Barnes on fourth attempt

By Tim Masters Entertainment and arts correspondent, BBC News

Julian Barnes thanked the judges "for their wisdom" and the sponsors "for their cheque"

Julian Barnes has won the Man Booker Prize for his novel The Sense of an Ending, (dự cảm vể một kết thúc) having been shortlisted on three previous occasions.

Barnes – the bookmakers’ favourite – said he was "as much relieved as I am delighted" to finally win.

The 65-year-old was presented with the £50,000 prize at London’s Guildhall.

Chairwoman of the judges, ex-MI5 boss Dame Stella Rimington, said the novel had "the markings of a classic of English literature".

The judges had come under fire this year from some literary quarters for putting a focus on "readability".

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“Start Quote

If the physical book… is to resist the challenge of the e-book, it has to look like something worth buying and worth keeping”

End Quote Julian Barnes

In his acceptance speech, Barnes said: "I’d like to thank the judges – whom I won’t hear a word against – for their wisdom. And the sponsors for their cheque."

Thanking the book’s designer, Suzanne Dean, he added: "Those of you who’ve seen my book – whatever you may think of its contents – will probably agree that it is a beautiful object.

"And if the physical book, as we’ve come to call it, is to resist the challenge of the e-book, it has to look like something worth buying and worth keeping."

Dame Stella described the novel as "exquisitely written, subtly plotted and reveals new depths with each reading".

She said: "We thought it was a book that spoke to the humankind in the 21st Century."

The shortest novel of the six finalists, The Sense of an Ending is about childhood friendship and the imperfections of memory.

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  • Barnes has written 10 previous novels, and numerous short stories and essays
  • He was born in Leicester in 1946 and was educated at the City of London School
  • He studied modern languages at Oxford, graduating in 1968
  • His jobs include literary editor for the New Statesman, and TV critic for the Observer
  • In France, he is the only writer to have won both the Prix Medicis (for Flaubert’s Parrot) and and the Prix Femina (for Talking It Over)

It is narrated by a middle-aged man, Tony Webster, who reflects on the paths he and his friends have taken as the past catches up with him via a bequeathed diary.

Dame Stella said that although the main character appeared at first to be "rather boring", he was gradually revealed to be somebody quite different.

The former spy chief added: "One of the things the book does is talk about (câu chuyện về, the story about) humankind: none of us really know who we are – we present ourselves in all sorts of ways."

The other nominees were Carol Birch (Jamrach’s Menagerie); Canadians Patrick deWitt (The Sisters Brothers) and Esi Edugyan (Half Blood Blues); and debut authors Stephen Kelman (Pigeon English) and AD Miller (Snowdrops).

Barnes had been shortlisted for the prize on three previous occasions, but without success.

The London-based author was nominated in 1984 for Flaubert’s Parrot, in 1998 for England, England and in 2005 for Arthur and George.

A copy of The Sense of an Ending novel by Julian Barnes Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending had been the favourite to win

Dame Stella said the five judges had reached a final, unanimous decision after about half an hour of debate on Tuesday.

"I can tell you there was no blood on the carpet and nobody went off in a huff," she said.

Her fellow Booker judges were writer and journalist Matthew d’Ancona, author Susan Hill, author and politician Chris Mullin and Gaby Wood of the Daily Telegraph.

While this year’s shortlist has been the best-selling in Booker history, some in the literary world have accused the prize of becoming too populist.

Dame Stella said the judges had followed the debate "sometimes with great glee and amusement".

"We were talking about readability and quality. We were certainly always looking for quality as well," she said. "That fact it’s been in the headlines is very gratifying."

Sales of the shortlisted novels are up 127% on last year.

According to Nielsen BookScan, 98,876 copies were sold in the six weeks after the shortlist was announced.

Snowdrops has sold most, shifting more than 35,000 copies since it was shortlisted. Next is Jamrach’s Menagerie with 19,500 and The Sense of an Ending with 15,000.

The 2011 Booker nominees read excerpts from their works

Barnes’s book has sold more than 27,500 copies since it was published in early August.

At 150 pages (Với số trang..), it is not the shortest book to win the Booker. That record is held by Penelope Fitzgerald’s 132-page Offshore (cuốn tiểu thuyết Xa bờ, có số trang là 132) which won in 1979.

Commenting on the winner, Jonathan Ruppin, of Foyles, said: "As a writer characterised by immense intelligence and imagination, it would have been remarkable if Barnes had never won the Booker. (Barnes là một tác giả có {đặc điểm} trí tưởng tượng phong phú và sự thông minh thú vị, nếu ông mà không đạt giải thì quả là đáng ngạc nhiên)

"This is definitely one that splits opinion, with some finding it (thấy tác phẩm này là) subtly powerful and others frustratingly underdeveloped (chưa đủ chín, còn quá sống sít), but great writers rarely (ít khi) please everyone."


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