Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children (Cape) was crowned the Best of the Booker this week, with 36% of the public vote.

The shortlist, which had been whittled down to six from the 41 previous Booker winners by a panel of judges, also comprised Pat Barker’s The Ghost Road (Viking), Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda (Faber), J M Coetzee’s Disgrace (Secker), J G Farrell’s The Siege of Krishnapur (Weidenfeld) and Nadine Gordimer’s The Conservationist (Cape).

More than 7,800 votes were cast online and via text, with 37% of online votes from the UK and 27% from North America.

Rushdie, who also won the Booker of Bookers celebrating the prize’s 25th birthday in 1993, was the early favourite, with his chances of winning at 1/8 when Ladbrokes closed its books on the eve of the award announcement.

The award marks the 40th anniversary of the Man Booker Prize. Other celebrations include an exhibition about the history of the prize at the Victoria & Albert Museum in the autumn.

The British Council is also working on an online collection of contemporary British literature, and is negotiating with publishers to include former winners of the Booker as e-books for a pilot project.