Fiction at its finest

The Winner

Salman Rushdie

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The Best of the Booker, a one-off celebratory award to mark the 40th anniversary of the Booker Prize in 2008, was won by Salman Rushdie for Midnight's Children.

Midnight's Children originally won the Booker Prize in 1981.


The Best of the Booker shortlist was selected by a panel of judges - the biographer, novelist and critic Victoria Glendinning (Chair), writer and broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, and John Mullan, Professor of English at University College, London. Each had previously been a judge of the Booker or Man Booker Prize. The decision then went to a public poll.


When voting closed at midday on 8 July 2008 over 7800 people had voted (online and SMS) for the six shortlisted titles, with 36% voting for Midnight's Children. Votes flooded in from across the world with 37% of online votes coming from the UK, followed by 27% from North America.


Victoria Glendinning commented, 'The readers have spoken - in their thousands. And we do believe that they have made the right choice.'


Salman Rushdie, on tour in America with his latest novel The Enchantress of Florence, was unable to attend the event and instead sent his thanks via a pre-recorded message. His sons, Zafar and Milan, were in attendance at the award ceremony at the Southbank Centre to receive the custom-made trophy.


Salman Rushdie commented, 'Marvellous news! I'm absolutely delighted and would like to thank all those readers around the world who voted for Midnight's Children.'


The six shortlisted books, chosen from the list of 41 Booker Prize and Man Booker Prize winners, were as follows:


Pat Barker's The Ghost Road (1995, Viking; paperback Penguin)    


Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda (1988, Faber & Faber; paperback Faber) 


JM Coetzee's Disgrace (1999, Secker & Warburg; paperback Vintage)


JG Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur (1973, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, paperback Phoenix)


Nadine Gordimer's The Conservationist (1974, Cape; paperback Bloomsbury)


Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children (1981, Cape; paperback Vintage)


Speaking of the shortlisted books Victoria Glendinning commented: 

'It was a great experience, revisiting all the Booker and Man Booker Prize winners, and very tough arriving at the shortlist - but we really feel that the six novels we picked represent the best fiction-writing of the past 40 years and that each one of them will  stand the test of time.  As to which of the six is the most important, and the most enjoyable, the Best of Booker - that is up to the readers to decide.'


The only time that a celebratory award had previously been created for ‘the Booker' was in 1993 - the 25th anniversary - when Salman Rushdie also won the Booker of Bookers with Midnight's Children.