Julian Barnes wins the 2011 Man Booker Prize

Twenty-seven years after his first Booker nomination, Julian Barnes has finally triumphed with his short novel The Sense of an Ending.

He beat out the two Canadian entries on the shortlist: Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers and Esi Edugyan’s Half Blood Blues. The shortlist also included Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch, Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman and A.D. Miller’s Snowdrops.

“Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending has the markings of a classic of English literature,” said Dame Stella Rimington, chairperson of the 2011 judging panel. “It is exquisitely written, subtly plotted and reveals new depths with each reading.”

The 150 page novel — which went straight into the bestseller list on publication — tells the story of a middle-aged divorcee, Tony Webster, who lives an ordered and somewhat boring existence until a lawyer’s letter causes him to revisit his school days. As the book unravels, the protagonist realizes his memory of the past, and understanding of himself, is less than perfect.

“I would like to thank the judges — who I won’t hear a word against — for their wisdom, and the sponsors for their cheque,” Barnes said when accepting the award, according to the Telegraph.

The prize is worth £50,000 (about $80,000).

For Barnes, this was fourth time lucky. He was shortlisted in 1984 for Flaubert’s Parrot but lost to Anita Brookner for Hotel Du Lac. His novel England, England was nominated in 1998 but he was beat out this time by Ian McEwan for Amsterdam. And in 2005, Barnes was shortlisted again for his novel Arthur and George, but John Banville took the prize for The Sea.

Watch Julian Barnes on his win of the Man Booker Prize 2011 for The Sense of an Ending:

The Booker, which was first awarded in 1969, is the world’s most prestigious English-language prize, though only writers from the Commonwealth and the Republic of Ireland are eligible. In its 42-year history, the only Canadian authors who were awarded with the prize are: Yann Martel (Life of Pi in 2002), Margaret Atwood (The Blind Assassin in 2000) and Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient, co-winner in 1992).

Sources: Man Brooker Prize news release; The Telegraph; The Montreal Gazette

Photo ©Man Booker Prize