British gambling institutions will be the most upset by the decision, as he was by far the overwhelming favorite among both reviewers and the public. The Booker Prize has become one of the national institutions upon which British gamblers place bets - and when the favorite wins, the gambling institutions have to pay out more than they make.
But most people's main concern in this matter is the 150-page book itself, a reflection of memory through the eyes of an ordinary man in his 60s. It was described by the chair of the judges, Dame Stella Rimington, as "beautifully written... a book that spoke to humankind in the 21st Century."
One of Britain's most established literary authors, Barnes had been nominated for the prize three times before, but this was the first time that won the £50,000 ($78,500) award.
In his acceptance speech, Barnes said "[Jorge Luis] Borges, when asked as he continually was, why he'd never won the Nobel Prize, always used to reply that in Sweden, there was a small cottage industry solely devoted to not giving Borges the Nobel Prize. And at times over the last years in occasional moments of mild paranoia, I've wondered whether there wasn't perhaps a similar sister organization over here. So I am as much relieved as I am delighted to receive the 2011 Booker Prize."
He went on to praise the book's designer, saying that "if the physical book, as we've come to call it, is to challenge the e-book, it has to look like something worth buying and worth keeping."
One of the judges, Gaby Wood, has written that the awarding of the prize to Barnes "marks an excellent moment for British fiction."
However, she later added, "It’s important to remember that, although the Man Booker can change a writer’s life, a prize is only a prize. It’s not an investigation, it’s not a work of criticism, and it’s not the result of common-or-garden enjoyment, either. There are all sorts of other lives books can have."
One of those lives is in book stores over the coming weeks and months. According to a reporter from Publishers Marketplace, the book's American publisher has already confirmed that they are printing 25,000 more copies of the book in response to the award, while The Bookseller reports a 75,000 reprint in the UK.
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more