Julian Barnes awarded David Cohen Prize

Three-times Man Booker-shortlisted author Julian Barnes has been awarded the £40,000 David Cohen Prize for Literature for his lifetime’s achievement in literature.

Barnes was presented with the award by chair of judges Mark Lawson at a gala ceremony at the British Library yesterday evening [17th March].  The author also chose to present the £12,500 Clarissa Luard Award to The Reading Agency to support their reading initiatives for young offenders.

Lawson said: "The David Cohen Prize is in effect a UK version of the Nobel Prize for Literature, open to writers of fiction and non-fiction, comedy and tragedy. . . What is remarkable about Julian Barnes is that he has excelled in all these areas.

"The already extraordinary list of David Cohen Prize-winning authors has been fittingly extended." Previous winners of the prize include Seamus Heaney, V S Naipaul, Harold Pinter and Muriel Spark.

Barnes added "Over the last 18 years the David Cohen Prize has established itself as the greatest honour a British or Irish writer can receive within these islands. It is also conducted with proper secrecy and dignity. So it is a matter of sober delight to be added to the list of prize-winners."

The biennial award, managed by Booktrust, recognises a living writer from the UK and Ireland whose work, in the opinion of a panel of judges, merits recognition for a lifetime’s achievement in literature.

Its adjunct, the Clarissa Luard Award is given to literature organisations that support young writers and readers or an individual writer under the age of 35, and is chosen by the winner of the David Cohen Prize. It is sponsored by Arts Council England.