Hilary Mantel wins the Man Booker Prize for 'Bring Up the Bodies' (+video)(Read article summary)
Hilary Mantel is the first woman and only Briton to win the Booker Prize twice.
Mantel won the 2009 Booker Prize for âWolf Hall,â the first in a planned trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, a member of Henry VIIIâs court. âBring Up the Bodiesâ centers on Cromwell and his view of the Tudor court as then-queen Anne Boleyn faces her downfall.
âYou wait 20 years for a Booker Prize [and] two come along at once,â Mantel said upon accepting the award Oct. 16 at the Guildhall building in London. The author received 50,000 pounds along with the honor.
âThere will always be some kind of genre fiction, whether it's whips and chains or boy wizards, making its way to the top,â Mantel said in an interview with Reuters. âBut what is important is there's a healthy appetite for what people off-puttingly call 'serious fiction.ââ
Chair of the judging panel Sir Peter Stothard told the BBC that he believed âBring Up the Bodiesâ surpasses âWolf Hallâ in excellence.
âShe uses her power of prose to create moral ambiguity and the real uncertainty of political life,â Stothard said. âWe 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.â
In a profile of Mantel for the NewStatesman, Sophia Elmhurst called Mantel's Cromwell novels "a combination of wild imagining and unimpeachable accuracy."
Winners of the Man Booker Prize often experience a sales surge after capturing the title, and Mantelâs book âWolf Hallâ had sold 36,000 copies before she won the Booker. Soon after she won, the book reached 600,000 copies sold. Her third installment in her series, âThe Mirror and the Light,â is expected to be released in 2015, according to Reuters.
Mantel and author Will Self were regarded as the frontrunners in the race before Tuesday night, with Mantel being seen as slightly in the lead. Selfâs novel âUmbrella,â which follows a woman in a psychiatric ward and is written almost without paragraph breaks, may have been regarded as less accessible than âBring up the Bodiesâ by some readers.
âPerhaps Umbrella would have been too radical a choice for a prize that, as the country's biggest, cannot help but be a little conservative,â Justine Jordan wrote in the Guardian.
Mantel spent her childhood in Hadfield in northern Derbyshire and wrote her first novel, centering on the French Revolution, while working in a dress shop at 23. She sent it to literary agencies, but she told Larissa Macfarquahr during an interview forÂ Â a New Yorker profile that she believes the phrase âhistorical fictionâ made editors dismiss it.
âThey literally could not read my letter, because of the expectations surrounding the words âFrench Revolutionââthat it was bound to be about ladies with high hair,â Mantel said.
She said when she started writing âWolf Hallâ after copious research, she almost laughed because it felt so easy.
âI know the subject matterâs dire, but I was filled with glee and a sense of power, a sense that I knew how to do this,â she told the New Yorker. âIt began to unscroll before me like a film; it was in the present tense because I didnât know what would happen next minute. It was as if after swimming and swimming youâve suddenly found your feet are on ground thatâs firm. I knew from the first paragraph that this was going to be the best thing Iâd ever done.â
She told Reuters sheâs not worried about bringing her trilogy to a satisfactory close.
âI think I can bring it home in style,â Mantel said.
Check out the video above of Mantel after winning her second Booker Prize.