′The English Patient′ voted best Man Booker Prize novel | News | DW | 09.07.2018
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'The English Patient' voted best Man Booker Prize novel

The public voted to choose Michael Ondaatje's novel "The English Patient" as the best Man Booker Prize winner. The special one-off award celebrates the 50th anniversary of the prestigious literary award.

Michael Ondaatje's book "The English Patient" was voted the best novel to have won the Man Booker Prize in 50 years on Sunday.

The Canadian writer's book, which tells a tale of love and conflict during World War II, was awarded the Golden Man Booker Prize for fiction after winning a month-long public vote.

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The award is a special one-off honor to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Man Booker Prize.

The book won the Man Booker Prize in 1992 and was made into a film starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche in 1996 that won nine Academy Awards.

'Great humanity' in every page

A panel of judges selected five books from the 51 winners of the Booker Prize, with one from each decade.

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. Hilary Mantel's Tudor saga "Wolf Hall" and George Saunders' US Civil War symphony "Lincoln in the Bardo" were the finalists from the 2000s and 2010s.

Ondaatje said he did not believe "for a second" that his book was the best, paying tribute to the late "The English Patient" film director, Anthony Minghella, "who I suspect had something to do with the result of this vote."

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Novelist Kamila Shamsie, one of the judges, said Ondaatje's book combined "extraordinary" language, continual surprises and compelling characters, including a Canadian nurse, an Indian bomb-disposal expert, a thief-turned-spy and an aristocratic Hungarian archaeologist.

"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."