Ellen Warner
October 18, 2011 at 10:08 PM EDT

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.

Read more:

EW’s review of ‘The Sense of an Ending’

Lauren Myracle’s National Book Award nomination withdrawn — Myracle reacts on Twitter

National Book Awards finalists announced — Tea Obreht reacts to her nomination

On the Books Sept. 12: Knopf to fast-track publication of Julian Barnes’ novel

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