By Deb A.
The Man Booker Prize has just marked its 50th anniversary by handing a golden trophy to the author of its 1992 winner, Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient.
The shortlist for the Golden Man Booker consisted of a single title per decade of Man Booker winners: In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul for the 1970s; Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively for the 1980s; The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje for the 1990s; Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel for the 2000s; and last year's winner, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, for this decade. The five novels then went up for a month-long public vote.
Author Kamila Shamsie was tasked with selecting a single representative for the 1990s. She picked The English Patient because "it does everything," with a rich cast of characters, beautiful language, intricate structure, and universal themes like "war and friendship and love and nationalism" that remain relevant to this day. She rejected the notion that her pick won because of its Oscar-winning film adaptation, but noted that "a lot of people when they're reading the book are probably imagining Ralph Fiennes though, and that doesn't hurt anything."
In accepting the prize, Mr. Ondaatje acknowledged authors who had never won, including William Trevor, Barbara Pimm, and fellow Canadian Alice Munro.
The Golden Man Booker is the third time that the institution has awarded a 'best of the best' prize—the Booker of Bookers, which marked its 25th anniversary, and the Best of Booker, created for its 40th, were both won by Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children.
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