Julian Barnes (1946, UK) won the 2011 Booker Prize for his novel The Sense of an Ending. Three others of his novels have been short listed for the award. I have seen a number of very favorable posts on his work from book bloggers whose judgement I have learned to trust so I was very happy to see one of his short stories, "One of a Kind", was included in a collection of short stories I recently acquired, The Penguin Book of Modern British Short Stories. (A sample of The Sense of an Ending can be downloaded from Amazon but I not like ready selections of novels.) One use of short stories is to sample an author, especially for people who see themselves as pretty much exclusively readers of longer fiction. Based on reading "One of a Kind" I would for sure be interested in reading one of his longer works.
"One of a Kind" sounds like it might be based on the experiences of Barnes at a literary conference in Bucharest. The story, told in the first person by an author, begins with the narrator offering a grand theory about Romania. His theory is that Romanian only has the cultural energy to produce one great philosopher, one novelist, one one poet, etc. He offers this theory to a Romanian writer and intellectual living in exile because of his political views who of course takes exception to this notion. There are a number of interesting conversations in the story. It was fun to see the narrator and an Italian writer visit the book stores of Bucharest. There is a lot to enjoy in "One of a Kind". It is straightforward story telling written in a pleasant fashion and the character insights displayed are very good.
There are no great events or revelations in this story. It is an interesting slice of life at a writer's conference.,
Please share your experience with Barnes with us.