One of the most acrimonious run-ups to the Man Booker Prize in recent years had a happy ending as British novelist Julian Barnes was declared the unanimous winner of this year’s £50,000 prize for his novella, “The Sense of an Ending’’, hailed as an “exquisite’’ meditation on growing old,
the nature of memory and relat ionships. The choice was applauded across the literary divide
though the judges still appeared to be smarting from the attacks they had endured in recent weeks as their selection for the shortlist had drawn accusations of “dumbing down’’. Mr. Barnes, who had been shortlisted three t imes before without ever winning the prize. One of Britain’s most admired novelists, Mr. Barnes had been the favourite of bookies and critics alike. At 150 pages, “The Sense of an
Ending’’, is his shortest novel but the record for the shortest book ever to win a Booker remains Penelope Fitzgerald’s “Offshore’’ which won in 1979. The judges said “The Sense of an Ending’’ was “exquisitely written, subtly plotted and reveals new depths with each reading”.The other contenders were: Carol Birch (“Jamrach’s Menagerie’’); Patrick deWitt (“The Sisters Brothers’’), Esi Edugyan (“Half Blood Blues’’); and debut authors Stephen Kelman (“Pigeon English’’) and AD Miller (“Snowdrops’’).