Michael Ondaatje's "The English Patient" has been voted the greatest-ever victor of the Man Booker Prize during five decades of the prestigious literary award. The one-off award, voted for by the public, commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Man Booker prize. The film adaptation starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Ralph Fiennes won nine Academy Awards in 1997, including best picture.
To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the Man Booker Prize enlisted a panel of judges to determine the five best Booker Prize recipients from the list of 51 previous winners.
The 1970s finalist was "In a Free State" by Trinidad-born V.S. Naipaul, while "Moon Tiger" by British writer Penelope Lively was the 1980s choice. The book was adapted into a 1996 film by Anthony Minghella.
Despite now being judged the best book of the past 50 years, after its release, The English Patient shared the 1992 award with Barry Unsworth's 18th Century slave tale Sacred Hunger.
"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", said Shamsie in a statement.
Ondaatje's novel takes place at the end of the Second World War, as a nurse, thief and sapper care for a mysterious nameless man they call the English patient.
"It's intricately (and rewardingly) structured, beautifully written, with great humanity written into every page", Shamsie said."Ondaatje's imagination acknowledges no borders as it moves between Cairo, Italy, India, England, Canada - and between deserts and villas and bomb craters".
The victor of the special one-off competition held to mark the Man Booker Prize's 50th anniversary celebrations was chosen by the public.
Won a special award "Golden Booker" was the canadian writer Michael Ondaatje.
Booker Prize Foundation chair Baroness Helena Kennedy said the story was "a compelling work of fiction".