Readersforum's Blog

October 17, 2012

Hilary Mantel wins Man Booker prize for second time

Bring Up the Bodies is first sequel to triumph in prize’s 43-year history, and author is first woman and first Briton to win twice.

By Mark Brown

Hilary Mantel has made Man Booker prize history by becoming the first woman and the first British writer to win the literary award twice.

Receiving the prize, Mantel joked: “You wait 20 years for a Booker prize and then two come along at once.”

Bring Up the Bodies, the blistering and bloody second instalment of her trilogy charting the life of Thomas Cromwell, was also the first sequel to triumph in the prize’s 43-year history. The first instalment, Wolf Hall, won three years ago.

The chairman of the Booker judges, Sir Peter Stothard, called Mantel “the greatest modern English prose writer” working today, and said she had “rewritten the book on writing historical fiction”.

“We are very proud to be reading English at the time she is writing. I don’t think I’ve read any English novelist in recent years who has such complete control over the way she uses prose to do what she wants to do, like a singer or a pianist,” Stothard said.

Mantel, 60, joins the Australian Peter Carey and the South African JM Coetzee as a double Booker winner. She triumphed from a shortlist that was striking in its contrast to last year, when judges emphasised readability. This year it was about the power of prose and re-readability.

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