Michael Ondaatje

Michael Ondaatje’s bestselling novel The English Patient was named the best winner of the Booker prize in the last 50 years. With nearly 9,000 counts, Ondaatje’s historical novel receives the most public votes. Not V. S. Naipaul

A panel of judges selected a total of five books out all 52 former books, which were then carried out to a public vote. VS Naipaul’s In a Free State, Penelope Lively’s Moon Tiger; Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo—made it to the final list.

Previously, Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children had won “Best of Bookers” for the award’s 25th and 40th anniversaries. Twenty-six years back, the panel of judges ended up with a tie between Michael Ondaatje and Barry Unsworth during the Man Booker in 1992.

Shamsie expressed, “The English Patient is that rare novel which gets under your skin and insists you return to it time and again, always yielding a new surprise or delight. 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.”

“That movement is mirrored in the way your thoughts, while reading it, move between large themes – war, loyalty, love – to tiny shifts in the relationships between characters. It’s intricately (and rewardingly) structured, beautifully written, with great humanity written into every page.

“Ondaatje’s imagination acknowledges no borders as it moves between Cairo, Italy, India, England, Canada – and between deserts and villas and bomb craters. And through all this, he makes you fall in love with his characters, live their joys and their sorrows. Few novels really deserve the praise: transformative. This one does.”

Helena Kennedy, chair of the Booker Prize Foundation, said: “The English Patient is a compelling work of fiction – both poetic and philosophical – and is a worthy winner of the Golden Man Booker.”