Off the Shelf: Catching up with Man Booker winner

The winner of this year’s £50,000 Man Booker Prize for Fiction was Julian Barnes for The Sense of an Ending.

In past years, the announcement of the Booker (now officially the Man Booker) Prize has led to a column shortly thereafter, where I’ve outlined not only the winner, but also the shortlisted titles.

This year, however, time has completely gotten away from me, but I simply could not let the year end without acknowledging the winner of this important literary prize.  (My apologies to those for whom this is old news.)

The winner of this year’s £50,000 Man Booker Prize for Fiction was Julian Barnes for The Sense of an Ending.

Considered the favourite, Barnes has been shortlisted three times in the past for Arthur and George (2005), England, England (1998) and Flaubert’s Parrot (1984).

His award-winning work is the story of a seemingly ordinary man who, when revisiting his past in later life, discovers that the memories he holds are less than perfect.

Tony Webster and first meets Adrian Finn at school, where they trade in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life. Now Tony is in middle age. He’s had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He’s certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer’s letter is about to prove.

At the time of the shortlist announcement, 2011 judge Gaby Wood commented: ‘that the tragedy trapped in this mundane life should be so moving, and so keenly felt by the character that he can only confront it half-blindly and in fragments, is the mark of a truly masterful novel.” Barnes is the author of ten previous novels, three books of short stories and three collections of journalism. Now 65, his work has been translated into more than thirty languages.  He lives in London.

Also on the shortlist for this year’s Booker Prize were: 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.

–– Maureen Curry is the chief librarian at the Vernon branch of the Okanagan Regional Library.