Michael Ondaatje's English Patient wins Booker Prize's 50th anniversary award

Michael Ondaatje

The Golden Man Booker, the one-off award marking the Man Booker Prize's 50thanniversary celebrations, was chosen by the public and revealed on Sunday.

The novel - which was adapted into an Oscar-winning 1996 movie starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche - was judged to be the best victor of the 52 books to have won the prestigious award.

They couldn't call it the Best of the Booker because that was awarded in 2008 to celebrate the prize's 40th anniversary (and went to Salman Rushdie's "Midnight's Children").

The English Patient, written by University of Toronto alumnus Michael Ondaatje, has been voted the greatest recipient of the Man Booker Prize from the past half-century.

Ondaatje, accepting the prize at the Man Booker Festival in London, didn't share Shamsie's enthusiasm about his novel, the Guardian reports.

The other shortlisted books for the Golden Man Booker were V.S. Naipaul's "In a Free State", Penelope Lively's "Moon Tiger", Hilary Mantel's "Wolf Hall" and George Saunders' "Lincoln in the Bardo", the only American novel to be named a finalist.

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The English Patient is a tale on love and conflict and according to Judge Kamila Shamsie, it is a "rare novel which gets under your skin". "It moves seamlessly between the epic and the intimate - one moment you're in looking at the vast sweep of the desert and the next moment watching a nurse place a piece of plum in a patient's mouth".

Founded in 1969, the Man Booker prize was originally open to British, Irish and Commonwealth writers, but eligibility was expanded in 2014 to all English-language novelists.

"Few novels really deserve the praise: transformative".

"The English Patient" won the Booker in 1992, but not outright.

The English Patient, which also inspired the Oscar-winning 1996 film from late director Anthony Minghella, is set at the end of the Second World War and revolves around the identity of a badly burned patient and whether he is a French archaeologist or a Nazi spy.

Two of the five books nominated were published by Bloomsbury, which will be hoping for related sales boost.

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