English author Julian Barnes won this year’s Man Booker Prize, Britain’s most prestigious literary award. (At $80,000, it’s also one of the most lucrative for a single book). The 65-year-old won for his brief, but concentrated, novel The Sense of an Ending, a story about a contented, middle-aged man whose past comes back to haunt him in surprising ways.
Stella Rimington, who headed the panel of judges this year, came under criticism recently for supposedly “dumbing down” the awards when she stated that the judges were looking to honor “readable” books: “We were looking for enjoyable books. I think they are readable books,” she said. “We wanted people to buy these books and read them. Not buy them and admire them.”
Barnes himself has criticized the Prize in the past, calling it “posh bingo” and accusing judges of being “inflated by their brief celebrity.”
The U.S. release of the book was fast-tracked from Jan. 2012 to Oct. 11 of this year in anticipation of the announcement of the award, which Barnes was widely favored to win.