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Rushdie novel voted best Booker Prize ever

Latest update : 2008-07-10

The top British literary prize, the Booker Prize, declared Salman Rushdie's novel "Midnight's Children" the "Best of Booker". This institution has given 41 prizes since it was launched, and "Midnight's Children" was honoured in 1981.

Salman Rushdie's novel "Midnight's Children" was named Thursday as the greatest Booker Prize winner ever, scooping a special "best of the best" award for the second time.

The British author's second novel edged out five others chosen from the 41 winners of the highly-regarded Booker Prize, in a public vote.

One of the literary world's most prestigious awards, the annual Booker Prize goes to the best work of fiction by an author from the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland.

The Best of the Booker award was to celebrate the prize's 40th anniversary.

Odds-on favourite "Midnight's Children" was Indian-born Rushdie's second novel and won the 1981 Booker Prize.

It also scooped the Booker of Bookers -- the only other time a celebratory award has been created for the prize -- in 1993.

New York resident Rushdie, 61, touring the United States promoting his latest novel "The Enchantress Of Florence", said it was "marvellous news".

"I'm absolutely delighted and would like to thank all those readers around the world who voted for 'Midnight's Children'," Rushdie said in a pre-recorded message.

His sons Zafar and Milan were at London's Southbank Centre to collect the award.

Rushdie was awarded a knighthood by Britain last year, prompting protestors in Pakistan to burn his effigy.

His 1988 book "The Satanic Verses" prompted Iran's then spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa against him the following year for blaspheming Islam.

Five other books were nominated for the prize by a panel of judges.

They were "Disgrace" by South African-born author JM Coetzee, which won the 1999 Booker; "The Siege of Krishnapur" by the late British writer JG Farrell (1973); "The Conservationist" by South African novelist Nadine Gordimer (1974); Australian author Peter Carey's "Oscar and Lucinda" (1988) and "The Ghost Road" by British writer Pat Barker, the 1995 winner.

Novelist and critic Victoria Glendinning, who chaired the judges, said: "The readers have spoken -- in their thousands. And we do believe that they have made the right choice."

She said the panel felt the six nominated novels represented the best fiction-writing of the past four decades and each would stand the test of time.

Some 7,801 people voted online or by text message, with 36 percent plumping for "Midnight's Children". Votes came in from across the world, with 37 percent of online votes from Britain and 27 percent from North America.

More than half the voters were aged under 35.

A total of 41 books have won the prize since it was launched in 1969, because the award was shared in 1974 and 1992. Contenders must have been published in the past year and originally written in English.

Booker Prize nomination all but guarantees worldwide readership and an upsurge in book sales.

Date created : 2008-07-10