Top 10 Best Man Booker Prize Winning Books of All Time

The more you dive into the world of fiction, you will be looking for more and if you stumbled upon this article, it means that you would be looking for the Best of the Booker Prize winners! In a world dominated and run by technology, rare are the people who are still engulfed in the world of Booker Prize-Winning Books.

Launched in 1969, the Booker Prize or the Man Booker Prize is one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the world. The Booker Prize-Winning Books, obviously possessing all the great and novel methods of storytelling.

These Man Booker Prize-winning books, usually don’t just win the most esteemed literary prize in the world, but they also inspire generations of avid readers who are stirred by the works of Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie.

Entering into this realm of books has always been addictive. With the Man Booker Prize of 2020 being announced, all of the worlds are once again reminded of the literary ingenuity contained in itself and so, to pay these talented storytellers some gratitude for giving us company on many nights, we dedicate this article to each one of them. This is for all those who changed the realms of story-telling, and made us love reading!

The Crème de la Crème of the world’s literary creativity is showcased during this time of the year when the Man Booker Prize is declared. And once again, in the year of 2018, the Booker Prize did not disappoint in the least. So, in this article, we will remind you of the best of the best, the ultimate list of the best Booker-winning books ever written!

1.   Midnight’s Children

Salman RushdieSalman Rushdie

  • Won Booker Prize in:1981
  • Genre: Magical realism

There is something sinisterly ethereal about this modern classic that in a few hundred pages, weaves a spell over any and everyone who dares to take it up. As one of the most defining books of the Magical realism sub-genre, Midnights Children oozes both magic and reality in every scene.

Rushdie, the master wordsmith, uses every chance he gets, to play and juggle with the story that takes cue from the intricately linked tragic history of the three nations of the Indian Subcontinent.

Born at the exact same second as India and Pakistan, Salim Sinai, the protagonist of the novel has his fate tied to his homeland. Delving into the semi-autobiographical territory at times, Rushdie writes in the way only he can. It’s no small wonder that this masterpiece has won the Booker of Bookers award twice, pipping the other Booker winners till date.

Truly, the only laurel left to be bestowed on the writer of this work of genius is the Nobel Prize in Literature, which considering all the other books that Rushdie has written, doesn’t seem far off.

Favourite quote from the book:

“What can’t be cured must be endured.”


“Children are the vessels into which adults pour their poison.”

2.   Vernon God Little

DBC PierreDBC Pierre

  • Won Booker Prize in 2003
  • Genre: Dark Humour

Who among us doesn’t love justice? This book is the finest tribute to all the poor souls in the world who believe in it and think that the systems put in place by our democratic institutions are meant to safeguard and uphold justice.

 It is a tribute to the new age media which fashions itself to be judge, jury, executioner and voice of people all at the same time. It is a tribute to all those countless people who will go to any heights to obtain their ten seconds of fame.

And at its core, it’s a tribute to us, as a society who seek to find scapegoats and closure in every event that happen. The book touches upon extremely painful-to-discuss and sensitive topics in a near farcical way; yet make no mistake, every event in the book will make you laugh and cry at the same time. At the end, we are left with a pit in our stomach, and question in our mind, about who to apportion blame for all the chaos that ensued.

Favorite quote from the book:

“The problem with learning the truth about things is that you lose the confidence that comes from being dumb.”

3.   The Sellout

Paul Beatty

  • Won Booker Prize in 2016
  • Genre: Dark Humour

The first American Book ever to win Booker, The Sellout is Paul Beatty’s hilarious take on race relations in today’s America. It is the kind of once in a lifetime classics that seeks to laugh hard in the face of oppression and injustice.

 It’s the kind of story that can only be told by a person who has walked through hell. When the narrator of the book learns that his hometown of Dickens, which is held up as a poster child of everything that’s wrong with America, is about to slowly vanish, he takes matters into his hands, which leads him to reintroduce slavery and segregation in his town.

The book doesn’t shy away from offending and trivializing sensitive matters, which is its greatest strength, and in a sense, shocks the reader out of oblivion by means of humour.

Favorite quote from the book:

“Silence can be either protest or consent, but most times it’s fear.”

4.   Life of Pi

Yann MartelYann Martel

  • Won Booker Prize in 2001
  • Genre: Magical Realism

How would you describe Life of Pi is a word? We would choose a word which is abundantly present in the book itself. The ocean. The book flows in waves like the very word itself. With up and downs like waves of the ocean, you travel through the book. Storms and thunderclouds adorn the pages of this book, but occasionally the sun shines so bright that it can be blinding.

 Yann Martel romances with words in such a resonating way that when you read the book, you find a new meaning to your beliefs in God as an identity. Every page embedded with such profound explanations of the simplest things about life which make you question the very meaning of life.

After you read this book, every time you hear anything related to the sea, Life of Pi crawls into your mind. The same is true for God. So, you can assume how a journey through this book is definitely as deep as a journey to the bottoms of the ocean and the wild animals just add to the incredible sense of the anomaly that is life.

Favorite quote from the book:

“Life will defend itself no matter how small it is.”

5.   White Tiger

Arvind Adiga

  •  Won Booker Prize in 2008
  • Genre: Dark Humour

The common Man’s Dilemma. A wide gaping distance between the Rich and the Poor in a society ridden with injustices is astoundingly presented in the book White Tiger. When morality is conceded to pave a way out of poverty, readers shift sides from supporting the good to bad.  Vehement in all its attempts at showcasing the raging gap in the Indian Society, White Tiger shows how all men and women may be born equal, but are often enslaved due to the money in their pocket throughout life.

The story of the White Tiger starts with a self-made entrepreneur Balram Halwai, writing to the Chinese Premier about his journey from the “Rags to the Riches”. Through his various letter which talk about how immorality, though deemed as the evil of all the societal problems, saved him from dying in a poor man’s life.

The entirety of the story is scaled through the distinction between the Servant Class and the Master class, in which one is always at loss. Definitely one of the best books in this list and make it a must-read for all those who want to have a real image of the Indian Society today.

Favorite quote from the book:

“In the old days there were one thousand castes and destinies in India. These days, there are just two castes: Men with Big Bellies, and Men with Small Bellies. And only two destinies: eat—or get eaten up.”

6.   The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Richard FlanaganRichard Flanagan

  • Won Booker Prize in 2014
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

This 2014 Booker winner is in a sense, a gory display of the extent of cruelty that only, us humans can inflict among one another. Taking its title from a 17th Century Japanese Haibun epic, the book takes care not to portray any one side as villains and heroes in that great global catastrophe that was World war II, instead fleshing out three dimensional, nuanced character arcs, each with different drives.

The book tells this gripping tale, in what could be one of the bleakest and harshest possible environments possible- the Thailand- Burmese border, where the Japanese seek to achieve the impossible by building a railway track connecting South East and South Asia, using captured Allied POWs.

The sheer scale of human vanity, cruelty and tragedy that ensues in this gargantuan venture is rivalled only by the swift abandonment of this white elephant that had been paid for in blood.

Favorite quote from the book:

“A good book … leaves you wanting to reread the book. A great book compels you to reread your own soul.”

7.   Schindler’s Ark

Thomas KeneallyThomas Keneally

  • Won Booker Prize in 1982
  • Genre: Historical Drama

We all know the Story of Noah’s ark. The famous Christian legend spirals the tale of how Noah saved the world’s species by building an ark during a calamity. A similar rendition unfolds in the book Schindler’s Ark which is based upon the life of Oskar Schindler who during the apocalypse of the holocaust, saved a large number of innocent Jews from the hands of the Nazis.

The story of the book seems pretty much simple, but the beautiful illustration of the life of Schindler, who is not always portrayed in the usual hero like light, takes you back to the decades when discrimination and genocide based on it were rampant in the society.

Favorite quote from the book:

“Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.”

8.   Moon Tiger

Penelope LivelyPenelope Lively

  • Won Booker Prize in 1987
  • Genre: Historical Fiction, Psychological Fiction

Claimed to be one of the best Booker Winning books ever written, this masterpiece taught us a very important lesson in life. Penelope Lively beautifully casts the shadow of the lady who wishes to write a book about the history of the world at her death bed.

With much of heart-rendering love story fueled with aspects of incest as well, this book gauges how people go to great extents to preserve their sanity while losing the one they love. But some of the unsaid things which we felt were very important to the storyline is this quote which we found-The fact that even when we burn brightest we are already dying…

Favorite quote from the book:

“The power of language. Preserving the ephemeral; giving form to dreams, permanence to sparks of sunlight.”

9.   The Remains of the Day

Kazuo IshiguroKazuo Ishiguro

  • Won Booker Prize in 1989
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

The book released in 1989 won the Booker Prize of the year and created another array of the literature lovers who vouch for a good book even today rather than the various modes of technology which have overlapped the world of ours.

Kazuo Ishiguro beautifully paints the picture of Stevens, an English butler who devotedly serves Lord Darlington. The novel starts after the death of the Lord, but he is deeply visualized throughout the novel with vivid descriptions. The story speaks of a man so overwhelmed by his propriety that he loses his romantic interest. We cannot proceed without giving out the story, so we stop here. But we can assure you that it is a book which will stay with you till the end of your life.

Favorite quote from the book:

“Indeed — why should I not admit it? — in that moment, my heart was breaking.”

10.   The Luminaries

Eleanor CattonEleanor Catton

  • Won Booker Prize in 2013
  • Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

The Luminaries is a journey through two mystical places, namely New Zealand and Astrology. What sets this book apart from its peers is the near-unique format of the book. Every event that happens in this mystical town of Hokitika is foreshadowed and foretold by planetary movements, which lends an eerie air to this corner of the world.

At its heart the book is a love story, yet, much like astrology, the actions of the couple, who are denoted as the luminaries-sun and moon, is influenced and dictated at every turn by the 12 zodiac houses- who are also personified by side characters. The underlying motive for all these planetary movements is, of course, gold, or rather the short-lived Gold rush of New Zealand’s South Island.

Favorite quote from the book:

“Love cannot be reduced to a catalogue of reasons why, and a catalogue of reasons cannot be put together into love.”

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Written by Sruthi Nair

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