He travelled from his home in South Africa to be at the ceremony in Melrose in the Scottish Borders.
He received his prize from the Duke of Buccleuch at a special event during the Borders Book Festival.
The Garden of Evening Mists is the first novel by an overseas writer to have won the four-year-old prize.
A new rule was introduced last year making books by authors from the Commonwealth eligible for entry.
The novel prevailed over a strong shortlist including Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, which has already carried off some of the UK’s most prestigious literary awards, and novels by English writers Rose Tremain, Pat Barker, and Anthony Quinn, and by Australian author Thomas Keneally.