Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient Wins The Golden Man Booker Prize

7/9/2018 3:02:04 PM
written By : Team India Se Print

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (Bloomsbury) has been crowned the best work of fiction from the last five decades of the Man Booker Prize.

Named the Golden Man Booker Prize winner on July 9, Ondaatje said: “Not for a second do I believe this is the best book on the list, especially when it is placed beside a work by VS Naipaul, one of the masters of our time, or a major work like Wolf Hall.”

The nominees

VS Naipaul’s In a Free State and Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall were two of the other nominees for the Golden Man Booker Prize. Also on the shortlist were Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively and Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.

“I suspect and know more than anyone that perhaps The English Patient is still cloudy, with errors in pacing,” said Michael Ondaatje, receiving the golden trophy at the Man Booker 50 Festival in Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Centre in London.

The 74-year-old Sri Lankan-born Canadian writer has published a new novel this year called Warlight.

The voters and the judges

The winner was chosen by the public. All 51 previous Booker prize 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, before the books faced a month-long public vote on the Man Booker website.

The judges were: writer and editor Robert McCrum, who chose In a Free State by VS Naipaul for the 1970s; poet Lemn Sissay, who chose Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively for the 1980s; novelist Kamila Shamsie, who chose The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje for the 1990s; broadcaster Simon Mayo, who chose Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel for the noughties; and poet Hollie McNish, who chose Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders for the 2010s.

Previous “Best of Bookers” surveys – carried out for the award’s 25th and 40th anniversaries – were both won by Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children.

Kamila Shamsie said The English Patient received the most votes, with nearly 9,000 votes cast by the public.

 

Epic novel

 "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 Kamila Shamsie. “It moves seamlessly between the epic and the intimate – one moment you’re in looking at the vast sweep of the desert and the next moment watching a nurse place a piece of plum in a patient’s mouth. 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."

The story

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.

Oscar winner

Michael Ondaatje is “one of only two authors whose work has won the Booker Prize and an Oscar”, noted the Man Booker website. The English Patient, published in 1992, was made into a film in 1996 and won the Best Picture award, the Best Director award for Anthony Minghella, and the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for Juliette Binoche, who played the nurse Hana.

1 comment for “Golden Man Booker Prize”

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