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Julian Barnes, Salman Rushdie, Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Graham Swift and Kazuo Ishiguro have long been members of the hallowed literary boys’ club that had its beginnings in the eighties, all of them having come under fire for dominating the literary scene of the time. That their supposed hegemony might be attributed to the extraordinary variety and brilliance of their prose is an argument for another day.

Barnes has been especially prolific since the publication of his first novel, the coming-of-age story Metroland (1980). It was his third book, Flaubert’s Parrot (1984), that established his reputation as an original and powerful novelist. He won the Man Booker Prize in 2011 with The Sense of an Ending, having being shortlisted three times previously with Flaubert’s Parrot, England, England (1998) and Arthur & George (2005)...

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