Sense of an Ending (Barnes)

Author Bio
Aka—Dan Kavanaugh
Birth—January 19, 1946
Where—Leicester, England, UK
Education—B.A., Oxford Uiversity
Awards—Man Booker Prize; Gutenberg prize;
   E.M. Forster Award; Geoffrey Faber Memorial
   Prize; Prix Medicis; Prix Femina.
Currently—lives in London, England

Julian Patrick Barnes is a contemporary English writer, and winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize, for his book The Sense of an Ending. Three of his earlier books had been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize: Flaubert's Parrot (1984), England, England (1998), and Arthur & George (2005).

Barnes has written crime fiction under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh. Barnes is one of the best-loved English writers in France, where he has won several literary prizes, including the Prix Médicis for Flaubert’s Parrot and the Prix Femina for Talking It Over. He is an officer of L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Although Barnes was born in Leicester, his family moved to the outer suburbs of London six weeks later. Both of his parents were teachers of French. He has said that his support for Leicester City Football Club was, aged four or five, "a sentimental way of hanging on" to his home city. He was educated at the City of London School from 1957 to 1964. At the age of 10, Barnes was told by his mother that he had "too much imagination."  As an adolescent he lived in Northwood, Middlesex, the "Metroland" of which he named his first novel.

Education and early career
Barnes attended Magdalen College, Oxford, where he studied Modern Languages. After graduation, he worked as a lexicographer for the Oxford English Dictionary supplement for three years. He then worked as a reviewer and literary editor for the New Statesman and the New Review. During his time at the New Statesman, Barnes suffered from debilitating shyness, saying: "When there were weekly meetings I would be paralysed into silence, and was thought of as the mute member of staff." From 1979 to 1986 he worked as a television critic, first for the New Statesman and then for The Observer.

His first novel, Metroland (1980), is a short, semi-autobiographical story of Christopher, a young man from the London suburbs who travels to Paris as a student, finally returning to London. It deals with themes of idealism, sexual fidelity and has the three-part structure that is a common theme in Barnes' work. After reading the novel, Barnes' mother complained about the book's "bombardment" of filth. In 1983, his second novel Before She Met Me features a darker narrative, a story of revenge by a jealous historian who becomes obsessed by his second wife's past.

Barnes's breakthrough novel Flaubert's Parrot broke with the traditional linear structure of his previous novels and featured a fragmentary biographical style story of an elderly doctor, Geoffrey Braithwaite, who focuses obsessively on the life of Gustave Flaubert. The novel was published to great acclaim, especially in France, and it established Barnes as one of the pre-eminent writers of his generation. Staring at the Sun followed in 1986, another ambitious novel about a woman growing to maturity in post-war England who deals with issues of love, truth and mortality. In 1989 Barnes published A History of the World in 10½ Chapters, which was also a non-linear novel, which uses a variety of writing styles to call into question the perceived notions of human history and knowledge itself.

In 1991, he published Talking it Over, a contemporary love triangle, in which the three characters take turns to talk to the reader, reflecting over common events. This was followed ten years later by a sequel, Love, etc., which revisited the characters ten years on.

Barnes is a keen Francophile, and his 1996 book Cross Channel, is a collection of 10 stories charting Britain's relationship with France. He also returned to the topic of France in Something to Declare, a collection of essays on French subjects.

In 2003, Barnes appeared as the voice of Georges Simenon in a BBC Radio 4 series of adaptations of Inspector Maigret stories. Other works include England, England, a satire on Britishness and the culture of tourism; and Arthur & George, a detailed story based on the life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his involvement in the Great Wyrley Outrages. His 1992 book, The Porcupine, deals with the trial of a fictional former Communist dictator.

Barnes' eleventh novel, The Sense of an Ending, was published in 2011 and awarded the Man Booker Prize. The judges took 31 minutes to decide the winner, calling it a "beautifully written book," which "spoke to humankind in the 21st Century." Salman Rushdie tweeted Barnes his congratulations.

In 2013 Barnes published a "memoir" Levels of Life, about the death of his wife, which is "part history, part meditative essay and part fictionalized biography. The pieces combine to form a fascinating discourse on love and sorrow" (New York Times).

Personal life
His wife, literary agent Pat Kavanagh, died of a brain tumour on 20 October 2008. He lives in London. His brother, Jonathan Barnes, is a philosopher specialised in Ancient Philosophy. He is the patron of human rights organisation Freedom from Torture. (Adapted from Wikipedia.)

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