Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Michael Ondaatje\'s \'The English Patient\' wins prestigious Golden Man Booker Prize

Michael Ondaatje\'s \'The English Patient\' wins prestigious Golden Man Booker Prize

Sri Lankan born Canadian author Michael Ondaatje's novel "The English Patient" has won the Golden Man Booker Prize.

The 50th anniversary of the prize is being magnified globally with Man Booker author events at worldwide literary festivals across the world.

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

The judges were Robert McCrum, who choseIn A Free Stateby VS Naipaul for the 1970s, Lemn Sissay, who chose Moon Tigerby Penelope Lively for the 1980s, Kamila Shamsie, who choseThe English Patientby Michael Ondaatje for the 1990s, Simon Mayo, who choseWolf Hallby Hilary Mantel for the noughties, and Hollie McNish, who choseLincoln In The Bardoby George Saunders for the 2010s.

All 51 previous winners were considered by a panel of five specially appointed judges, each of whom was asked to read the winning novels from one decade of the prize's history.

Ondaatje's novel, set during World War II, tells the story of four damaged people brought together in an Italian villa: a severely burned and morphine-addicted man, the young Canadian nurse who tends to him, a former intelligence operative, and a Sikh bomb-disposal expert.

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He had a fantastic tri-series tournament where he scored 61, 6, 47, 73 and 91 runs to help his team beat Australia in the final. No wonder he moved up 44 spots on the table to reach No 2 with 842 points, also the best in his short worldwide career so far.

The 74-year-old author beat the Man Booker Prize's previous 51 winners including Indian-origin VS Naipaul for his 1971 victor "In a Free State"; Salman Rushdie for "Midnight's Children" (1981), Arundhati Roy for "The God of Small Things" (1997); Kiran Desai for "The Inheritance of Loss" (2006); and Aravind Adiga for "The White Tiger" (2008).

He was gracious as he commented: "Not for a second do I believe this is the best book on the list, especially when it is placed beside a work by V.S. Naipaul, one of the masters of our time, or a major work like Wolf Hall".

She continued: "It's intricately (and rewardingly) structured, beautifully written, with great humanity written into every page".

"Few novels really deserve the praise: transformative".

In 2008, the Booker Prize held a similar competition for its 40th anniversary.

The English Patient was adapted into a film in 1996. Clearly, its acclaim has stood the test of time.

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