10. - Disgrace, J.M. Coetzee, 1999
9. - How late it was, how late - James Kelman, 1994
8. - The inheritance of loss, Kiran Desai, 2006
7. - The blind assassin, Margaret Atwood, 2000
6. - True History of the Kelly Gang, Peter Carey, 2001
5. - The line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst, 2004
4. - Schindler's Ark, Thomas Keneally 1982
3. - Life of Pi, Yann Martel, 2002
2. - Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie, 1981
1. - The remains of the day, Kazuo Ishiguro, 1989
You will notice a preponderance of novels from the last 10 years. That is quite frankly because the Booker Prize has really come in to its own in the last 10 years. The beginning years of the prize is marked by sub-par efforts by well known authors in attempts to legitimize the prize. The prize really came into its own in the early 80s with Midnight's Children and William Golding's Rites of Passage, both of which finished 1 and 2 in the voting for the booker of bookers. This marked the best booker in the awards first 25 years. Although I was not a fan of Golding's effort - I'm more of a Piggy kind of guy - the success of these 2 novels, then followed by Keneally's hugely famous novel on Jewish persecution in WWII, helped give authority to the Booker prize. As the value of the prize increased, so to has its display of regality, going so far as to have the Queen present at the award show.
For my money, Ishiguro's novel on the daily monotonies of an English butler, is hauntingly devastating in its veracity and its intimacy. The subtly of Ighiguro's style is nothing short than masterful. For this reason, I put it #1 on my list of all-time Bookers. Of course, much as the title would have us believe in Remains of the Day, the best is perhaps ahead of us.