The bookies' favourite Julian Barnes has been announced as the 2011 winner of the Man Booker Prize, for his novel The Sense of an Ending.
The 65-year-old writer was awarded the £50,000 prize at London's Guildhall this evening (18 October), stating he was "relieved and delighted" to be finally honoured as the winner, after receiving three previous nominations for his novels Flaubert's Parrot, England, England and Arthur and George.
A bestseller upon publication, The Sense of Ending is the story of a middle-aged man Tony Webster, who, when revisiting his past via a bequeathed diary, discovers that the memories he holds are less than perfect.
Sales of the books shortlisted for the 2011 Man Booker Prize have been the highest selling since records began, leading to critcism that the prize was "dumbing down" - with literary merit sacrificed for readability. But Chair of the Judges and former Director of MI5 Dame Stella Rimington used the announcement speech to hit back at the sceptics, stating she was "delighted the shortlist had sold so well".
Barnes' novel was acclaimed by Rimington as " exquisitely written, subtly plotted...(revealing) new depths with each reading."
Established author Barnes can now expect an even wider readership after winning the prize, but the other shortlisted candidates will each receive £2,500 and a designer-bound edition of their book.
What do you think of the results? Did Barnes deserve to win or do you wish a less established author had taken the prize? Share your views in the comments below or tweet us @Stylistmagazine.
Main picture credit: Rex Features