Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children has been named as the best novel to have won the Booker Prize.

The book, which claimed the prestigious award in 1981, was selected by some 36 per cent of voters in a public poll to crown the 'best of the Booker'.

A shortlist of six Booker Prize winners - including JM Coetzee's Disgrace, Pat Barker's The Ghost Road and JG Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur - was selected by a judging panel comprised of biographer, novelist and critic Victoria Glendinning (Chair), writer and broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, and John Mullan, Professor of English at University College, London.

And after some 7,800 literature lovers voted - 37 per cent of whom were from the UK, with more than one in four voters from the US - Midnight's Children headed the field.

"The readers have spoken - in their thousands. And we do believe that they have made the right choice," said Glendinning after the announcement.

The accolade comes 15 years after the novel was chosen as the Booker of Bookers in 1993, a celebratory award created to mark the 25th anniversary of the Booker Prize.

Rushdie was unable to attend the awards ceremony at London's Southbank Centre, as he is currently touring the US to promote his latest novel The Enchantress of Florence.

However, his sons, Zafar and Milan, were in attendance and passed on a message of thanks from their father.

"Marvellous news!" the author commented.

"I'm absolutely delighted and would like to thank all those readers around the world who voted for Midnight's Children."

10/07/2008 12:44:44