Julian Barnes is congratulated as he hears the winning announcement
Another year of judging controversy produced a very uncontroversial winner in Julian Barnes, an author who might have regretted once describing the prize, slightingly, as ‘posh bingo’.
When two of the judges expressed a desire for books that ‘zip along’ and exude ‘readability’ numerous literary folk took offence. Stella Rimington, chair of judges, thriller writer and former head of MI5, took offence at their offence. In her prize speech she spent more time attacking critics than hailing the merits of the shortlist.
She memorably compared the publishing world to the KGB in its use of ‘black propaganda, destabilisation operations, plots and double agents’. In Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending, however, the judges picked a deserving and popular winner.