Julian Barnes, who for years has been cheated out of one of the world's most prestigious literary prizes (at least, according to his fans), has finally won the Man Booker Prize for his short novel The Sense of an Ending. It's not a Nobel exactly, but the award this year is worth $80,000.
The news caps off what London's The Guardian calls "one of the most bitter and vituperative run-ups to the prize in living memory." The trouble stemmed, in part, from a directive from the chair of this year's judges, Stella Rimington, that books be judged according to their "readability" as well as their literary worth.
Rimington, a former head of Brit spy agency MI5, says in her announcement of the winner that Barnes' novel has "the markings of a classic of English Literature. It is exquisitely written, subtly plotted, and reveals new depths with each reading." She added, "It is a very readable book, if I may use that word, but readable not only once but twice and even three times."
Barnes had been short-listed for the award thrice before - in 1984 for Flaubert's Parrot, 1998 for England, England, and 2005 for Arthur & George.
"I'm as much relieved as I am delighted to receive the 2011 Booker Prize," Barnes said. He thanked his publishers "for their wisdom and the sponsors for their check."
Other top contenders this year included Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch, Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan, and A.D. Miller's Snowdrops.
Lindsay Lohan in court . . .
America's favorite celebrity punching bag, Lindsay Lohan, 25, is due in court Wednesday morning for a probation hearing that gossipers speculate may land her back behind bars.
LiLo has reportedly missed her 480 hours of court-ordered community service and has violated a requirement that she attend therapy. TMZ says that could land her in jail for 18 months. LiLo denies she's been bad.
"I am not to be made an example of anymore. I am working hard and fulfilling my obligations every single day," she tweets.
A shout-out to comic artists Corinne Mucha and Joe Boruchow for winning a mention under "Notable Comics" in The Best American Comics 2011, published in October by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Mucha, who grew up in Haddon Heights and was cited for "Future Dreams" in Is It the Future Yet?, also draws the monthly "Barnyard Etiquette" for The Inquirer's Style & Soul section.
Boruchow, author of Stuffed Animals: A Story in Paper Cutouts, was profiled in The Inquirer for his music, publishing, and street art projects. See Mucha's work here: http://go.philly.com/eticomic. Read more about Boruchow in The Inquirer here: http://bit.ly/p87m4j and http://bit.ly/qQ5NS0.
Today in EntBiz news
From princess to guttersnipe: Princess Diaries star Anne Hathaway has been cast to play Fantine in a film adaptation of that most beloved musical celebration of misery, poverty, and death, Les Misérables. Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean) and Russell Crowe (Inspector Javert) will costar.
Batman does Woody Guthrie?
The Los Angeles Times says comic-book auteur Christopher Nolan may set scenes of his new Batman actioner, The Dark Knight Rises, at Occupy Wall Street. The film begins shooting in New York in two weeks. So will the Caped Crusader (Christian Bale) break protester skulls? Or will he join the demo and sing Woody Guthrie tunes?
An Elkin play in New Mexico
Fat Chance, a play by Philly author and journalist Michael Elkin, has been chosen for the 2012-13 season of the No Strings Theatre in Las Cruces, N.M. The play was previously staged at the Beverly Hills Playhouse and was optioned by HBO in the 1980s. Elkin says the play, his 11th to be produced worldwide, is "about a young overweight couple who find the loves of their lives through the radio." Elkin is an arts and entertainment editor at Philly's own Jewish Exponent.
Leading literati, including Salman Rushdie, Neil Gaiman, Jennifer Egan, Ann Patchett, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket), have signed a petition on OccupyWriters.com saying they "support Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Movement around the world." So, will they actually sleep on the cold, hard pavement?