Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011
Genre: Literary Fiction
Reason for Reading: The title appealed to me.
Award Won: Man Booker Prize, 2011
Summary from NPR (National Public Radio):
Tony Webster is a retired divorced man in his mid-60s who, after receiving notice of an unexpected bequest, is pulled back into a “powerful recollection of strong emotions” from his past. This leads to a reassessment of the accuracy of his memories, a rueful realization of how much he’d gotten wrong, and a harsh re-evaluation of his passive approach to life.
Most of us live our lives pushing straight ahead through each day’s activities and pressures. We seldom stop to look back. But there often comes a time, usually after something bad happens and/or after retirement, when we have more time to look back and examine our lives.
Of course, some people never look back, but Julian Barnes fictional character, Tony Webster, does search through his memory base. His life, like ours, was not remarkable. He’s the average citizen who pursues a career, raises a family, and, in general, does the right thing. As he looks back he begins to wonder if what he did was right, could he have done better, or maybe it’s just his memory that’s faulty.
I promise you The Sense of an Ending is fiction, even though, at least for me, it felt like a memoir. It was personal and somehow philosophical. There is so much to think about here. As soon as I finished I had to go back and read certain parts. I’m sure there will be a re-read of this one in my future.
Julian Barnes’ writing is incredible. Tuesday I quoted the opening two paragraphs here. Today I want to share with you part of the closing.
You get towards the end of life – no, not life itself, but of something else: the end of any likelihood of change in that life. You are allowed a long moment of pause, time enough to ask the question: what else have I done wrong?
The Sense of an Ending is Julian Barnes’ nineteenth book. Three of Barnes’ earlier books have been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize: Flaubert’s Parrot, England, England, and Arthur & George. He has also written crime fiction under the pseudonym of Dan Kavanagh.
About the Award:
The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original full-length novel, written in the English language, by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, Ireland, or Zimbabwe. The winner of the Man Booker Prize is generally assured of international renown and success; therefore, the prize is of great significance for the book trade. It is also a mark of distinction for authors to be selected for inclusion in the shortlist or even to be nominated for the “longlist”. (from Wikepedia)