Books need to be beautiful, says the latest winner of the Man Booker Prize, Julian Barnes, if they are to withstand the onslaught of the e-book.
BOOKS need to be beautiful, says the latest winner of the Man Booker Prize, Julian Barnes, if they are to withstand the onslaught of the e-book.
Accepting the prize for his novel The Sense of an Ending, Barnes thanked the book’s designer, Suzanne Dean, and said, ”Those of you who’ve seen my book – whatever you may think of its contents – will probably agree that it’s a beautiful object. And if the physical book, as we’ve come to call it, is to resist the challenge of the e-book, it has to look like something worth buying and worth keeping.”
Barnes finally won the £50,000 ($A77,000) prize after having been shortlisted three previous times and following a bitter controversy over this year’s shortlist, which was criticised as being too populist for focusing on ”readability”.
A group of writers, publishers and agents announced plans to set up a rival literary prize that would reward the artistic achievement of a writer above ”readability”.
Chairwoman of the judging panel and former head of MI5 Dame Stella Rimington said the publishing world had given the judges glee by behaving like ”the KGB at its height”, using ”black propaganda, destabilisation operations, plots and double agents”.
”We were certainly always looking for quality as well,” she said. ”The fact it’s been in the headlines is very gratifying.”
She said Barnes’s 150-page novel had the markings of a classic of English literature: ”Exquisitely written, subtly plotted and reveals new depths with each reading.”
The story is narrated by a middle-aged man, who reflects on the paths he and his friends have taken as the past catches up with him via a bequeathed diary.
Barnes, 65, is literary editor for the New Statesman and TV critic for the Observer. He has written 10 previous novels.
The other nominees were Carol Birch (Jamrach’s Menagerie); Canadians Patrick deWitt (The Sisters Brothers) and Esi Edugyan (Half Blood Blues); and debut authors Stephen Kelman (Pigeon English) and A. D. Miller (Snowdrops).
First published in The Age.