READERS have voted Salman Rushdie's 1981 novel Midnight's Children the greatest Booker-prize winner of all time.
The "Best of the Booker" was awarded to the controversial British author to mark the 40th anniversary of the Booker prize, regarded by many as one of the world's most prestigious literary prizes.
The 61-year-old author won the 25th anniversary "Booker of Bookers" prize for the same novel in 1993.
Rushdie, whose 1988 novel The Satanic Verses outraged many Muslims and prompted death threats against him, was widely tipped to win the award, which was voted for by readers online and via SMS.
Rushdie was in the US on a book tour when the award was announced in London last night Sydney time.
"Marvellous news!" he said in a statement. "I'm absolutely delighted and would like to thank all those readers around the world who voted for Midnight's Children."
Victoria Glendinning, chair of the panel who drew up a shortlist, said: "The readers have spoken in their thousands. And we do believe that they have made the right choice."
Roughly 8,000 people from around the world took part in the online poll. Midnight's Children was the clear favourite, winning 36 percent of the vote.
Some critics believe it to be Rushdie's finest work, eclipsing even The Satanic Verses, for which he remains best known - and most reviled.
Rushdie beat nominees including Australian literary heavyweights J.M. Coetzee and Peter Carey.
The full list comprised Rushdie, Pat Barker (The Ghost Road), Peter Carey (Oscar and Lucinda), Coetzee (Disgrace), J.G. Farrell (The Siege of Krishnapur) and Nadine Gordimer (The Conservationist).
Both Coetzee and Carey have won the Booker Prize twice. Carey, who now lives in New York, described being shortlisted for the "Best of the Booker" as being similar to being hit by truck.