Top 10 Booker Prize Winners

Launched in 1969, The Booker Prize (which became the Man Booker Prize in 2002) has long been regarded as one of the most important awards in the literary calendar. With its aim to promote the finest fiction written in English, the winner not only receives a cash prize and a designer-bound copy of their book, but also a sharp increase in sales.

With so many fantastic authors and books having received the award over the last few decades, it's tough to pinpoint just 10 that we think are the absolute best but we have, somehow, managed to narrow it down and here they are, in no particular order...

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1. Midnight's Children

Salman Rushdie

Year won: 1981

Saleem Sinai is born at the very moment of India's independence and, just like every Indian child born during that crucial midnight hour, he gains a special power. His gift is telepathy and over the years of his life he will have encounters with other special "midnight's children" and witness the years of turmoil and liberation that followed India's independence. Saleem's fascinating life story is linked completely to the story of his nation in this eye-opening novel.

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2. Schindler's Ark

Thomas Keneally

Year won: 1982

This terrific book is based on the real story of Oskar Schindler who is responsible for saving 1200 Jews during the Holocaust. In the novel, Oskar transforms from a womaniser and drinker to hero in a time of darkness and this emotional story was so loved it was adapted into the amazingly successful Schindler's List film directed by Steven Spielberg.

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3. Moon Tiger

Penelope Lively

Year won: 1987

Claudia Hampton is close to dying but determined to write a history of the world before she does. However, as she starts putting her words down she actually starts revealing her own history. In this fiercely strong and independent woman's life story you'll discover the events that made her who she is and meet the people that changed her life for better and worse. This is a powerful story about a life and all that affects it.

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4. The Remains of the Day

Kazuo Ishiguro

Year won: 1989

In the 1950s, Stevens, an old butler, goes on a car journey through the countryside and along the way he relives his past and takes the reader through the history of England. The book moves between a story of war to a story of love and back. This is an unforgettable read from the author of Never Let Me Go.

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5. The English Patient

Michael Ondaatje

Year won: 1992

In an Italian villa at the end of World War Two is Hana, a nurse who has stayed behind to care for her final patient. The patient is an English man with no identity and no clue as to who he was before the war broke out aside from a book filled with secret notes. As Hana tries to learn more about her patient, she uncovers the story of one truly gripping love affair.

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6. The Ghost Road

Pat Barker

Year won: 1995

The Ghost Road is the final book in the Regeneration trilogy which features eye-opening stories of the First World War. This particular novel takes place over the final few months of the war and sees psychiatrist William Rivers attempt to help the many struggling soldiers that come to him for assistance. One of these very soldiers is Billy Prior who is about to return to France with his fellow officer and young poet, Wilfred Owen. This is an eye-opening and gritty story of history, war and the price we pay for victory.

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7. The Blind Assassin

Margaret Atwood

Year won: 2000

This feat of storytelling follows Iris as she recounts the story of her sister's death in 1945. However, we then jump into a science-fiction/romance novel Iris is working on called The Blind Assassin and soon enough will jump back and revisit Iris and her story. This is a fascinating novel that tells multiple stories in one by intertwining them so artfully, from reading this book you won't be at all surprised Margaret Atwood is considered one of the best writers of our time.

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8. Life of Pi

Yann Martel

Year won: 2002

Before it was a hugely successful movie, Life of Pi was a hugely successful book. After a cargo ship sinks in the middle of the Pacific Ocean the few survivors find themselves on a small boat sailing into the unknown. Pi, a young Tamil boy, is one of these survivors and his one constant companion during his sea-faring ordeal is a Bengal tiger called Richard Parker. This exciting and beautiful novel will stay with you long after you've finished the book.

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9. Wolf Hall

Hilary Mantel

Year won: 2009

In Tudor England Henry VIII is causing chaos as he forges a new path for England in order to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. At his side is Thomas Cromwell, a most unusual and enigmatic man. Hilary Mantel blends the psychology of her characters with the complex politics of the time they live in. A truly compelling and unique book, this is historical fiction at its finest.

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10. The Sense of an Ending

Julian Barnes

Year won: 2011

This compelling psychological thriller sees Tony Webster, a retired, divorced and, on the surface, perfectly normal man come face-to-face with his harrowing past. At sixth form, Tony had friends that he thought he'd never lose but after what happened he spent years trying to turn his back on them and the life he knew. But skeletons don't stay in the cupboard forever and now Tony must learn to face up to everything he's done...

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We think these amazing books definitely deserved all the accolades they received and are perfect for everyone's book bucket lists.

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    One boy, one boat, one tiger ...After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild, blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a zebra (with a broken leg), a female orang-utan -- and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger. The scene is set for one of the most extraordinary and best-loved works of fiction in recent years.
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    Penelope Lively's Booker Prize winning classic, Moon Tiger is a haunting story of loss and desire, published here as a Penguin Essential for the first time. Claudia Hampton - beautiful, famous, independent, dying. But she remains defiant to the last, telling her nurses that she will write a 'history of the world...and in the process, my own'. And it is her story from a childhood just after the First World War through the Second and beyond. But Claudia's life is entwined with others and she must allow those who knew her, loved her, the chance to speak, to put across their point of view. There is Gordon, brother and adversary; Jasper, her untrustworthy lover and father of Lisa, her cool conventional daughter; and then there is Tom, her one great love, found and lost in wartime Egypt. "Leaves its traces in the air long after you've put it away." (Anne Tyler). "A complex tapestry of great subtlety. Lively writes so well, savouring the words as she goes." (Daily Telegraph). "Very clever: evocative, thought-provoking and hangs on the mind long after it is finished." (Literary Review).
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    REISSUED AS A SCEPTRE 30TH CLASSIC, with a new afterword by the author. In the shadow of Auschwitz, a flamboyant German industrialist grew into a living legend to the Jews of Cracow. He was a womaniser, a heavy drinker and a bon viveur, but to them he became a saviour. This is the extraordinary story of Oskar Schindler, who risked his life to protect Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland and who was transformed by the war into a man with a mission, a compassionate angel of mercy.
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    1918, the closing months of the war. Army psychiatrist William Rivers is increasingly concerned for the men who have been in his care - particularly Billy Prior, who is about to return to combat in France with young poet Wilfred Owen. As Rivers tries to make sense of what, if anything, he has done to help these injured men, Prior and Owen await the final battles in a war that has decimated a generation. "The Ghost Road" is the Booker Prize winning account of the devastating final months of the First World War. This is the third book in the "Regeneration" trilogy.
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    A fascinatingly complex tale of two young Canadian women and the greed, power and perversion of those around them, The Blind Assassin earned author Margaret Atwood a Booker Prize in 2000. A tale of tragedy that offers a sharp and compelling social commentary, this work of fiction is very much representative of Atwood?s intelligent and absorbing style. Full of plot twists that lead the reader to their own conclusions, these two interlinked narratives come together to form an award-winning novel.

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    A contemporary classic, The Remains of the Day, is Never Let Me Go author Kazuo Ishiguro's beautiful and haunting evocation of life, lost causes and lost love between the wars in a great English house. Set in the 1950s, ageing and dignified butler Stevens embarks on a holiday that will take him deep into the countryside and his past. The novel is still highly regarded and regularly features high in a number of literary lists. Ishiguro's third novel, it was 1989's winner of the Booker Prize for Fiction and the film adaptation, starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, was also nominated for many awards.

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    From one of our finest living writers, Wolf Hall is a truly great English novel, and one that explores the intersection of individual psychology and wider politics. With a vast array of characters, and richly overflowing with incident, it peels back history to show us Tudor England as a half-made society, moulding itself with great passion, suffering and courage. Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2009, it also earned author Hilary Mantel the title of UK Author of the Year at the Galaxy National Book Awards in 2010.

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    Born at the stroke of midnight at the exact moment of India's independence, Saleem Sinai is a special child. However, this coincidence of birth has consequences he is not prepared for: telepathic powers connect him with 1,000 other 'midnight's children' all of whom are endowed with unusual gifts. Inextricably linked to his nation, Saleem's story is a whirlwind of disasters and triumphs that mirrors the course of modern India at its most impossible and glorious.
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    The final curtain is closing on the Second World War, and Hana, a nurse, stays behind in an abandoned Italian villa to tend to her only remaining patient. Rescued by Bedouins from a burning plane, he is English, anonymous, damaged beyond recognition and haunted by his memories of passion and betrayal. The only clue Hana has to his past is the one thing he clung on to through the fire - a copy of The Histories by Herodotus, covered with hand-written notes describing a painful and ultimately tragic love affair.
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    This title is the winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2011. Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life. Now Tony is retired. He's had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He's certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer's letter is about to prove. "The Sense of an Ending" is the story of one man coming to terms with the mutable past. Laced with trademark precision, dexterity and insight, it is the work of one of the world's most distinguished writers.