Booker prize 2011: Julian Barnes triumphs at last

From Guardian:

-Julian-Barnes-007Julian Barnes finally won the literary prize that has eluded him on three previous occasions when he was tonight presented with the Man Booker prize for his short novel, The Sense of an Ending.

His victory came after one of the most bitter and vituperative run-ups to the prize in living memory – not among the shortlisted writers, but from dismayed and bemused commentators who accused judges of putting populism above genuine quality. But few of those critics could claim Barnes' novel is not of the highest quality. The chair of this year's judges, former MI5 director general Stella Rimington, said it had “the markings of a classic of English Literature. It is exquisitely written, subtly plotted and reveals new depths with each reading.” Much of the row over the shortlist has stemmed from Rimington's own prioritisation of “readability” in the judging criteria. But tonight, she said quality had always been just as important. “It is a very readable book, if I may use that word, but readable not only once but twice and even three times,” she said. “It is incredibly concentrated. Crammed into this short space is a great deal of information which you don't get out of a first read.”

More here.