Friday, July 11, 2008

Midnight’s Children wins the
Best of the Booker

Salman Rushdie tops public poll 15 years after winning the Booker of Bookers

27 years after its initial publication Midnight’s Children is in the news again as it is today (10th July 2008) announced as the winner of the Best of the Booker.

The only time that a celebratory award has 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.

When voting closed at midday on the 8th July 7801 people had voted (via online and SMS) for the six shortlisted Best of the Booker prize titles with 36% voting for Midnight’s Children. Votes came in from all around the world with 37% of online votes coming from the UK followed closely by 27% of online voters from North America. At least half of the voters were under 35 with the largest age group ranging between 25-34years, a reflection of the ongoing interest in quality fiction amongst readers of all ages.

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.

Victoria Glendinning comments:
“The readers have spoken - in their thousands. And we do believe that they have made the right choice.”
Salman Rushdie, in America on tour 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 South Bank Centre to receive the custom made trophy.

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

Other celebrations to mark the anniversary include an exhibition in the autumn at the V&A telling the visual story of the prize over its 40 years. The British Council is also working towards the creation of an online collection of contemporary British literature. The Council is in negotiation with publishers to include former winners of the Booker Prize and Man Booker Prize as e-books for a pilot project.

For further information on all the shortlisted titles and to watch the winner’s
speech please go to

And be sure to see the terrific coverage from The Guardian, including a photo of Rushdie's children accepting the prize of his behalf.


Rachael King said...

"At least half of the voters were under 35 with the largest age group ranging between 25-34years, a reflection of the ongoing interest in quality fiction amongst readers of all ages."

Perhaps also a reflection of the voting methods - online and text messaging!

I voted for Oscar and Lucinda, but I am happy that this book won too. I loved it nearly as much.

Bookman Beattie said...

Thanks Rachael, interesting comments re age and the style of voting. I too voted for Peter Carey's Oscar & Lucinda but am not at all surprised or disappointed with the result..

Ron said...

Yeah, he was the red hot favouite I guess. probably the right call.A great book I reckon. I like the Carey too but think Illywacker is better.

Roger H said...

I agree with Ron, both that Midnight's Children is the worthy winner, and that Illywacker was better than Oscar and Lucinda. Furthermore Illywacker should have won the Booker that year, but we all know which book won it instead.... "Bloody hell" said a surprised Kiwi author.

Midnight's Children was SO different, such an extraordinary concept and so successfully carried out that it does remain one of the very greatest works of the 20th century...

Roger H

keri h said...

Each to their own opinion...I favoured Pat Barker who, in my opinion, is a far better writer-storyteller than Rushdie or Carey. As for longevity of titles - it'd be o so good to come back in a century or so and see if *any* of the 40years of Booker-McConnell titles are still read. Methinks not-