Adapted into a multiple Oscar-winning film starring Ralph Fiennes as the desert explorer Làszlò Almàsy, Juliette Binoche as his nurse Hana and Kristin Scott Thomas as the married Katharine Clifton, The English Patient was one of the best-known books on the shortlist. Ondaatje's "The English Patient" also won a Governor General's Literary Award.
Baroness Helena Kennedy, chairman of the Booker Prize Foundation, added: 'The English Patient is a compelling work of fiction - both poetic and philosophical - and is a worthy victor.' The winner was announced at a ceremony at the Southbank Centre in London last night.
At the end of may, the jury selected five best books of the 51 who received the Pulitzer prize.
"Not for a second do I believe this is the best book on the list or any other list that could have been put together of Booker novels", Ondaatje said at the awards ceremony at London's Southbank yesterday.
The Fund's Chairman of the Booker prize, Baroness Helena Kennedy in a statement following the vote, called the novel "the English patient" "the thrill of working in the field of fiction, poetic and philosophical".
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I felt something odd in my knee and after talking with the doctor on the sideline we decided I should come off. England head into the game as favourites with the bookies but most expect a tight and exhilarating encounter.
The judges were: Robert McCrum, who chose In a Free State by Trinidad-born V. S. Naipaul for the 1970s; Lemn Sissay, who chose Moon Tiger by British writer Penelope Lively for the 1980s; Kamila Shamsie, who chose The English Patient for the 1990s; Simon Mayo, who chose Hilary Mantel's Tudor saga Wolf Hall for the 2000s; and Hollie McNish, who chose George Saunders' US Civil War symphony Lincoln in the Bardo for the 2010s.
The victor of the special one-off competition held to mark the Man Booker Prize's 50th anniversary celebrations was chosen by the public.
"Few novels really deserve the praise: transformative".
Simon Mayo, a novelist and broadcaster, chose the 2009 prize victor "Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel.
In 2008, the Booker Prize held a similar competition for its 40th anniversary, when the public voted for Salman Rushdie's "Midnight's Children", which originally won in 1981.
His latest novel is "Warlight", which was released in May and follows two siblings separated from their parents in London in 1945.