Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient wins prestigious Golden Man Booker Prize

Dame Hilary Mantel Booker Prize winning author at the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival

Dame Hilary Mantel Booker Prize winning author at the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival

Michael Ondaatje, famous for his work on The English Patient, won the Golden Man Booker Prize at a festival, marking the 50 anniversary of the literary award. The Golden Man Booker victor was revealed at the closing event of the Man Booker 50 Festival in Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Centre.

The English Patient, written by University of Toronto alumnus Michael Ondaatje, has been voted the greatest recipient of the Man Booker Prize from the past half-century. The five novels were then voted on by the public, which awarded the "Golden" Booker Prize to Ondaatje.

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 novel - written by Sri-Lankan born Ondaatje in 1992 - tells of the entanglement of four people in an Italian villa, including an English burns victim, as the Second World War ends.

The English Patient is a tale on love and conflict and according to Judge Kamila Shamsie, it is a "rare novel which gets under your skin".

The 74-year-old author beat the Man Booker Prize's previous 51 winners including Indian-origin VS Naipaul for his 1971 victor "In a Free State"; Salman Rushdie for "Midnight's Children" (1981), Arundhati Roy for "The God of Small Things" (1997); Kiran Desai for "The Inheritance of Loss" (2006); and Aravind Adiga for "The White Tiger" (2008).

Ondaatje said he did not believe "for a second" that his book was the best.

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.

"And through all this, he makes you fall in love with his characters, live their joys and their sorrows".

The victor of the special one-off competition held to mark the Man Booker Prize's 50th anniversary celebrations was chosen by the public. "This one does." Booker Prize Foundation chairman Helena Kennedy said the story was "a compelling work of fiction". Clearly, its acclaim has stood the test of time.

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