Man Booker Prize won by Hilary Mantel's Bring up the Bodies


Hilary Mantel was announced as the winner at London's Guildhall

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Hilary Mantel has won the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for her novel Bring up the Bodies, the sequel to Wolf Hall, which won the prize in 2009.

Mantel is the first woman and the first living British author to win the prestigious literary prize twice.

"This double accolade is uniquely deserved," said Sir Peter Stothard, chairman of the judges.

The book is about Thomas Cromwell, an adviser to King Henry VIII, and charts the bloody downfall of Anne Boleyn.

It is the second book in a trilogy.

A third instalment, to be called The Mirror and the Light, will continue Cromwell's story until his execution in 1540.

Mantel was announced as the winner at London's Guildhall on Tuesday night.

Mantel's win also makes her the first person in Man Booker history to win the prize for a direct sequel. She is only the third double winner of the award, after JM Coetzee and Peter Carey.

Receiving her award, she joked: "You wait 20 years for a Booker Prize and two come along at once."

She added: "I know how privileged and lucky I am to be standing here tonight. I regard this as an act of faith and a vote of confidence."

As well as the £50,000 cheque she also receives £2,500 for being shortlisted, along with the other five novelists in the race.

Sir Peter said that the judges had made their final decision on Tuesday after a "lengthy and forensic examination".

He said: "This is a very remarkable piece of English prose that transcends the work already written by a great English prose writer.

"This is a bloody story about the death of Anne Boleyn, but Hilary Mantel is a writer who thinks through the blood. She uses her power of prose to create moral ambiguity and the real uncertainty of political life."

He added: "She has recast the most essential period of our modern English history; we have the greatest modern English prose writer reviving possibly one of the best known pieces of English history.

"It is well-trodden territory with an inevitable outcome, and yet she is able to bring it to life as though for the first time."

Asked whether the book qualified as a thriller, Sir Peter referenced The Godfather: "You can see as much Don Corleone in this book as DH Lawrence."

Man Booker Prize - 2012 shortlist

  • Tan Twan Eng - The Garden of Evening Mists
  • Deborah Levy - Swimming Home
  • Hilary Mantel - Bring Up the Bodies
  • Alison Moore - The Lighthouse
  • Will Self - Umbrella
  • Jeet Thayil - Narcopolis

Mantel's latest work has been widely praised. The Telegraph noted its "descriptive immediacy", while Margaret Atwood wrote in the Guardian "literary invention does not fail her: she's as deft and verbally adroit as ever."

Jonathan Ruppin, web editor at Foyles bookshops, said: "Bring Up the Bodies has remained a strong seller since it was published in May, but this rare double Man Booker win confirms her output as essential reading.

"Mantel has been writing superb fiction for much longer than she has been winning major awards, so many readers will soon discover that she is their new favourite author. There's every possibility she might pull off a unique treble when she completes the trilogy."

The impact on sales for a Man Booker winner is considerable - every winning book since 1996 has grossed more than £1m.

Yan Martel's Life of Pi, which won in 2002, made just under £10m.

Last year's winner, Julian Barnes's The Sense of an Ending, has sold 300,000 copies so far.

According to the latest figures, Mantel's Bring up the Bodies has sold 108,342 copies, which is more than the other 11 Man Booker longlisted novels combined.

Mantel was previously longlisted in 2005 for Beyond Black. She was a judge for the prize in 1990 when AS Byatt won with Possession.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    Both Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies are superb books, exquisitely written and real page-turners. They are certainly not inaccessible; especially not when compared to other Booker nominees and, indeed, some prizewinners. Prizes are a bit daft, but very well done to her for such a terrific achievement. Looking forward so much to The Mirror and The Light.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    I gave up on Wolf Hall when the lack of punctuation made it impossible to tell who was saying what and to whom. I felt badly let down by an author who appeared to have forgotton that the most important person to think about when writing is the reader. What I read of Wolf Hall told me more about Hilary Mantel than it did about Thomas Cromwell. I'll stick with Matthew Shardlake.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Richly deserved.I've been a fan since A Place of Greater Safety.Superb author, so pleased she's finally getting due recogniton.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    I found her first book fascinating. It was a departure from my usual genre of reading and was enthralled by her rendition of, what is, a well-trodden tale. My only criticism is (and this may well be true of all great artists) that the content is far too complex for the common man/woman, making it more of an elitist writing than a novel that is 'up for grabs' for all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    I've read too many disappointing Booker prize winning books over the years to care about which book wins it, or feel the award means very much.

    Best to wait and read reviews of the winning book before buying, I suspect.


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