It was adapted into a multiple Oscar-winning film in 1996 starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Ralph Finnes.
A panel of five judges considered all 51 of the previous winners, before the top choice from each decade of the Man Booker was put to the public vote.
A great work of literature will stand the test of time, and that's definitely the case with The English Patient, which has just won acclaim as the victor of the Golden Man Booker Prize.
At that time, the public voted for Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, which originally won in 1981.
The Golden Booker was held in 2018 to mark 50 successful years of the much coveted literary prize.
The judges were Robert McCrum, who choseIn A Free Stateby VS Naipaul for the 1970s, Lemn Sissay, who chose Moon Tigerby Penelope Lively for the 1980s, Kamila Shamsie, who choseThe English Patientby Michael Ondaatje for the 1990s, Simon Mayo, who choseWolf Hallby Hilary Mantel for the noughties, and Hollie McNish, who choseLincoln In The Bardoby George Saunders for the 2010s.
"It moves seamlessly between the epic and the intimate one moment you're in looking at the vast sweep of the desert and the next moment watching a nurse place a piece of plum in a patient's mouth", she said.
"Few novels really deserve the praise: transformative".
The Sri Lanka-born writer was announced as the victor at the closing event of the Man Booker 50 Festival at the Royal Festival Hall, which saw Shamsie discuss why she had chosen The English Patient and an extract performed by actor Chiwetel Ejiofor.
The Booker Prize for Fiction was first awarded in 1969 and has been sponsored by Man Group since 2002. Ondaatje's "The English Patient" also won a Governor General's Literary Award.
The Fund's Chairman of the Booker prize, Baroness Helena Kennedy in a statement following the vote, called the novel "the English patient" "the thrill of working in the field of fiction, poetic and philosophical".