Julian Barnes was awarded the Man Booker prize for fiction last night after the author’s fourth nomination in nearly three decades.
Barnes, 65, won the annual contemporary fiction award for his 150-page novella “The Sense of an Ending,” wherein a middle-aged man reflects on his younger years. The novella also explores the dismantling, fuzzy quality that memory gives to our past.
Barnes, who once dismissed the award as “posh bingo,” won the prize this year after three previous nominations to the Booker shortlist. He was previously nominated in 1984 for “Flaubert’s Parrot,” in 1998 for “England, England,” and then in 2005 for his “Arthur and George.”
The five judges took just 31 minutes to unanimously agree to awarding Barnes the prize.
“We thought it was a book that spoke to the humankind of the 21st century,” said Dame Stella Rimington, chairman of the judging panel.
The award comes with £50,000 in prize money, which Barnes said he would use to buy a new watch strap, among other things.
“I could buy a whole new watch,” he said.
At the awards ceremony held at Guildhall in London last night, Barnes admitted a sense of relief at finally winning the prize.
“I didn’t want to go to my grave and get a Beryl,” he joked, referring to the posthumous prize awarded to English author Beryl Bainbridge after five nominations during her lifetime.
The Man Booker prize is awarded each year for the best original full-length novel written in the English language by a citizen of the Commonwealth, Ireland or Zimbabwe.