Following our last event on Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, the first BookTalk of 2016 will continue the focus on contemporary fiction with a discussion of Julian Barnes’s Man Booker Prize-winning novella, The Sense of an Ending (2011). Although deceptively short—150 pages exactly—Barnes’s eleventh novel is a measured, masterful meditation on ageing, memory, loss and regret. It tells the story of Tony Webster, a man whose seemingly comfortable retirement is disrupted when he receives a strange bequest from a woman he met briefly decades ago. This bequest leads him to reflect upon his life, and to reconsider the version of the past he has been telling both himself and others for years.
The Sense of an Ending was warmly received by critics and readers alike; despite having been nominated three times before, it was the first time that Barnes won the Man Booker Prize. Dame Stella Rimington, Chair of the Booker judges, described it as a ‘book that spoke to the humankind in the 21st Century’. It is currently being made into a BBC Film starring Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Emily Mortimer and Michelle Dockery.
To explore the novel’s themes of truth and fiction, memory, and suicide, Cardiff BookTalk is delighted to host a panel of speakers from across Cardiff University:
- John Aggleton is Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a world expert in the neural basis of memory; his research examines how various brain structures cooperate to support different forms of memory.
- Jonathan Scourfield is Professor of Social Work and Deputy Head of the School of Social Sciences. His research interests include social work with men, distress and suicidal behaviour, child welfare and children’s identities.
- Emma West is a PhD candidate in the Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory. Her research uses theory to develop new approaches to 20th- and 21st-century literature and culture.
The main event (7pm) will be preceded by a reception with tea, coffee and biscuits at 6.30pm in Cardiff University’s School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Maindy Road, Cardiff CF24 4HQ.
About the author
Julian Barnes is one of our most prolific contemporary British authors. He is the author of twelve novels, three books of short stories, four collections of essays, two books of non-fiction, a translation of Alphone Daudet’s In the Land of Pain and crime novels under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh. He began his career as a reviewer, literary editor and later a television critic for the New Statesman and Observer. Aside from the Man Booker Prize, he is the recipient of many awards, including the Somerset Maugham Award (1981), the E. M. Forster Award (1986), the David Cohen Prize for Literature (2011) and the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence (2013). His latest novel, The Noise of Time, will be published by Jonathan Cape on 28 January 2016.