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Julian Barnes claims Man Booker Prize

19th October 2011

Julian Barnes has claimed the Man Booker Prize at his fourth attempt with his novel The Sense of an Ending.

He lived up to his billing as the bookmakers' favourite and said he was 'as much relieved as he was delighted' to pick up the award and the GBP 50,000 prize.

Chairwoman of the judging panel Dame Stella Rimington, who along with her panel had faced criticism for putting too great an emphasis on 'readability' in the shortlist, said Barnes' offering had 'the markings of a classic of English literature'.

She described the winning novel as 'exquisitely written' and 'subtly plotted' and explained that it offers 'new depths with each reading'.

In his acceptance speech, Barnes said: 'I'd like to thank the judges - whom I won't hear a word against - for their wisdom. And the sponsors for their cheque.'

The London-based author was nominated for the prize in 1984 for Flaubert's Parrot, in 1998 for England, England and for Arthur and George in 2005, but he missed out on each occasion 

This year The Sense of an Ending overcame tough competition from Carol Birch's Jamrach's Menagerie, The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt, Esi Edugyan's Half Blood Blues, Stephen Kelman's Pigeon English and Snowdrops by A. D. Miller.

Speaking after the winner was revealed, Jonathan Ruppin, of Foyles, said: 'As a writer characterised by immense intelligence and imagination, it would have been remarkable if Barnes had never won the Booker.'

However, he revealed that the novel does split opinion, with 'some finding it subtly powerful and others frustratingly underdeveloped, but great writers rarely please everyone'.

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