The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (Bloomsbury Publishing) has been announced as the winner of the Golden Man Booker Prize at the closing event of the Man Booker 50th Anniversary Festival at Southbank Centre.
The winner of this special one-off prize was chosen by the public. 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. They chose the ‘Golden Five’, and then the books faced a month-long public vote on the Man Booker website.
The English Patient
The English Patient opens in an abandoned Italian villa at the end of the Second World War where Hana, a nurse, tends to her sole remaining patient. Rescued from a burning plane, the anonymous Englishman is damaged beyond recognition and haunted by painful memories. The only clue Hana has to unlocking his past is the one thing he clung on to through the fire – a copy of The Histories by Herodotus, covered with hand-written notes detailing a tragic love affair.
Michael Ondaatje is one of the world’s foremost writers, whose work has influenced an entire generation of writers and readers. Although he is best known as a novelist, Ondaatje’s work also encompasses poetry, memoir, and film, and reveals a passion for defying conventional form. He is one of only two authors whose work has won the Booker Prize and an Oscar, and his latest novel, Warlight, has just been published by Jonathan Cape.
“…beautifully written, with great humanity written into every page”
“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.” Says Kamila Shamsie, judge of the 1990s. “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.”
The Golden Five
- In a Free State (Picador) by V. S. Naipaul (1971) chosen by Robert McCrum
- Moon Tiger (Penguin) by Penelope Lively (1987) chosen by Lemn Sissay
- The English Patient (Bloomsbury) by Michael Ondaatje (1992) chosen by Kamila Shamsie
- Wolf Hall (Fourth Estate) by Hilary Mantel (2009) chosen by Simon Mayo
- Lincoln in the Bardo (Bloomsbury) by George Saunders (2017) chosen by Hollie McNish
Review any of the shortlisted titles on our book reviews page by clicking a title above.