The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes
This short novel (around 160 pages) took home the 2011 Booker Prize, one of the most significant literary prizes in the world today. Every time I’ve ever read a Booker Prize winner, I’ve really liked it – in most cases, I’ve been blown away. The Sense of an Ending is one of the best Booker Prize winners I’ve ever read.
The story concerns itself with Tony Webster, a man in his later years who looks back on his high school days, his closest friends, and a tragic event. While at times this book reads like a memoir, and at others a suspenseful mystery story, where this story really hooked me was on its meditations on memory and history – how we can never really trust our own versions of our own stories, and so if that’s the case, then what is history but a slippery myth that we hold up as truth? Driving the plot is Tony’s quest to come to terms with an incident from his youth that he could never really understand, and his response to it that he never fully remembered. This book can be read in one intense sitting, and the final twenty pages were as exciting and surprising as anything I’ve read in a long time.