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Best Man Booker Goes to ‘The English Patient’
Best Man Booker Goes to ‘The English Patient’

Best Man Booker Goes to ‘The English Patient’

Best Man Booker Goes to ‘The English Patient’

Michael Ondaatje’s “The English Patient” was named the greatest-ever winner of the Man Booker Prize at an event on Sunday celebrating five decades of the prestigious literary award.
The Canadian writer’s tale of love and conflict during World War II was awarded the Golden Man Booker Prize for fiction after winning a public vote, Telegraph reported.
“English Patient” won the Booker in 1992 and was made into a 1996 movie starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche that won nine Academy Awards.
It beat four other novels in an online poll that drew 9,000 votes in all. Organizers did not give a breakdown of votes for the books, each of which represented one of five decades.
A panel of judges selected five books from among the 51 winners of the Booker, a prize that has boosted the careers of writers such as Ian McEwan, Arundhati Roy and Kazuo Ishiguro.
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 contender. 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.
Novelist Kamila Shamsie, one of the judges, said Ondaatje’s book combined “extraordinary” language, a plot tinged with mystery and compelling characters, including a Canadian nurse, an Indian bomb-disposal expert, a thief-turned-spy and an aristocratic Hungarian archaeologist.
Shamsie said Ondaatje’s novel, published at a time when “borders seemed much more assured,” had a different resonance in the current climate, amid “anxieties about borders and anxiety about migrants and other people.”
“And I think it is really brave and remarkable the way he goes into that story and says war is trauma, and war is about separating people by nations when there are so many other reasons for them to be together,” she added.
The book follows four dissimilar people brought together at an Italian villa during the Italian Campaign of World War II. The four main characters are: an unrecognizably burned man - the eponymous patient, presumed to be English; his Canadian Army nurse, a Sikh British Army sapper, and a Canadian thief.
The story occurs during the North African Campaign and centers on the incremental revelations of the patient’s actions prior to his injuries, and the emotional effects of these revelations on the other characters.
Founded in 1969, the Man Booker prize was originally open to British, Irish and Commonwealth writers, but eligibility was expanded in 2014 to all English-language novelists.

 

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