Julian Barnes: The Sense of an Ending


Friday, August 10, 2012

Julian Barnes’s novel The Sense of an Ending follows the thoughts of an unreliable narrator in his 60s trying to reconstruct events and feelings from his youth. After it won the Man Booker Prize last year, it became a bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic, and recently came out in paperback.

Kurt Andersen interviewed Barnes in 2006 for the National Book Foundation's "Eat, Drink & Be Literary" series at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Barnes had just published a very different kind of historical exploration, Arthur & George. It’s a fictional account of a meeting between Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and an obscure country lawyer named George Edalji. (Barnes was in the middle of writing The Sense of an Ending then — although the book didn’t have a name yet.)

When Barnes started out as a writer, he says he had a “sort of a plan”: “My first novel was going to be in the first person, my second novel was going to be in the third person, and my third novel was going to be from the point of view of a woman.” He made it to part two of his plan, but was then sidelined by his break-out novel Flaubert’s Parrot. Barnes’ work has ranged from historical fiction to cheap detective novels (under a pseudonym). So he’s reluctant to describe his oeuvre, or even to use the word oeuvre, he tells Kurt. “I can only write one book at a time,” he explains, “and I can only write that book by forgetting all the previous ones that I’ve written. I’m aware, because people keep telling me, that my books are different from one another. I don’t know where I’m going next, except that it’s not where I’ve just been. That’s sort of how I am.”


Bonus Track: Kurt's extended conversation with Julian Barnes


Julian Barnes


Katie Long

Comments [3]

J. David

Thank you.

Aug. 14 2012 09:52 PM
David from Studio 360

Jon, I'm sorry you're having trouble with the audio. Somebody else commented similarly, but we're unable to reproduce the problem. I've just downloaded the podcast and it played it through on iTunes. The streaming audio on the Marvin Hamlisch page (http://www.studio360.org/2012/aug/10/marvin-hamlischs-hollywood/) should work as well.

Aug. 12 2012 12:42 PM
Jon from Bilbao, Spain

Plese reload the Marvin Hamisch Studio 360 8/10/12 podcast. It's damaged

Aug. 12 2012 07:11 AM

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