2018 Jul 10
At the 50th anniversary of the coveted literary prize, Micheal Ondaatje’s classic novel ‘The English Patient’ won the incredibly prestigious Golden Man Booker Prize. The novel emerged the winner after a public vote on the shortlisted winners of the Man Booker prize over the past 50 years.
The event took place at the Royal Festival Hall in London, where Ondaatje accepted the incredible prize. When speaking about his win, Ondaatje reminisced back to his many years of teaching full-time and “trying to write a complicated novel”, saying at the time it had become too much to manage. “I thought I was going to lose it – and I had quit my job. I just needed to finish the book. It was a bet.”
Ironically, The English Patient’s first Man Booker win was shared with Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger in 1992. Ondaatje penned the novel between 1985 and 1992. Now 74 years old, Ondaantje has seven novels and is a celebrated poet and writer. The English Patient was translated into 38 languages and had a film adaptation which won 9 Oscars. Ondaantje is the first to admit that Anthony Minghella’s 1996 screen adaptation played a vital role in drawing more readers to the page and vastly expanding the reach of his words.
In The English Patient, a dying man, trapped in a charred body, is tended by a young nurse who is herself battling loss. The vivid imagery, exceptional storytelling, and poetic writing made it capture the attention of millions of readers worldwide. He is certainly an undisputed winner of the Golden Man Booker. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet (in which case, it’s been 26 years, what have you been doing?) it’s most definitely time! The English Patient is a classic worth a read.