Julian Barnes won the Man Booker Prize for his 150-page novel "The Sense of an Ending," in what was his first win after being shortlisted three previous times.
The chair of the five-judge panel, Stella Rimington, told Reuters: "We thought that it was a book which, though short, was incredibly concentrated and crammed into this very short space a great deal of information you don't get out of a first reading. It's one of these books, a very readable book, if I may use that word, but readable not only once but twice and even three times."
The annual award comes with a check for 50,000 pounds ($80,000), and writers from the British Commonwealth, Ireland and Zimbabwe are eligible for the prize.
British novelist Barnes, 65, whose previous nominations were for "Flaubert's Parrot" in 1984, "England, England" in 1998 and "Arthur and George" in 2005, has been critical of the award in the past, likening it to "posh bingo." Other members of the literary community have slammed the award for being too oriented toward "readability" and even set up a rival award for loftier literary works.
Others shortlisted this year include Carol Birch for "Jamrach's Menagerie," Patrick deWitt and Esi Edugyan for "The Sisters Brothers" and "Half Blood Blues," Stephen Kelman ("Pigeon English") and A.D. Miller ("Snowdrops").
The Sense of an Ending concerns a man named Tony who who discovers his memories are not reliable. Rimington said the panel was initially split on the decision to choose Barnes.
"I can tell you there was no blood on the red carpet, nobody went off in a huff and we all ended up firm friends and happy with the result," she told Reuters.
Man Booker Prize
|Man Booker Prize|
|Awarded for||Best full-length English novel|
|Presented by||Man Group|
|Location||Commonwealth of Nations, Ireland, and Zimbabwe|