An English postmodernist writer, he is best known for his 2011 work, The Sense of an Ending, which won the prestigious Man Booker Prize. Several of his earlier works, including Flaubert's Parrot and Arthur & George, were finalists for the same honor.
He worked briefly as a lexicographer after graduating from Magdalen College, Oxford.
His numerous literary honors include the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award.
He was born in Leicester, England to French teacher parents. He married literary agent Pat Kavanagh; she died of a brain tumor in 2008.
He won the Man Booker Prize one year before Hilary Mantel received the same honor.