Barnes wins Booker
They say third time's a charm but it was fourth time lucky for Man Booker Prize winner Julian Barnes, who won the £50,000 (almost €57,000) prize for his novel The Sense of an Ending.
The 65-year-old Brit was previously nominated for his novels Flaubert's Parrot in 1984, "England, England" in 1998, and Arthur and George in 2005.
The Sense of an Ending, about an elderly man revisited by his past, was the bookies' favourite for this year's prize. Other novels on the shortlist were Stephen Kelman's Pigeon English, A.D. Miller's Snowdrops and Carol Birch's Jamrach's Menagerie, as well as two Canadian novels, The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt and Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan.
This year's shortlist has been the best sold in the prize's history, up 105% from the previous record year 2009 and up 127% from last year. The selection has been criticised as a dumbing down of the Man Booker, with readability and populism seen as more important than excellence.
After the shortlist was announced in September a group of authors and publishers, including former Booker winners Pat Barker and John Banville, announced that they intend to launch a rival award, with hopes to supplant the Booker as English literature's main literature award.
With the new award, simply titled the Literature Prize, this movement hopes to award excellence without discriminating against the author's origin or other factors.
Currently, the Booker Prize does not accept entries from American authors. It is open to any full-length novel, written by a citizen of the 54 Commonwealth of Nations states, the Republic of Ireland or Zimbabwe in the English language.
Barnes, who is said to have previously described the contest as “posh bingo” commented that he was “as much relieved as I am delighted to receive the 2011 Booker Prize.” The 150-page novel has sold more than 27,500 copies since it was published in early August.