Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mantel clocks up second win

Hilary Mantel has been awarded the 2012 Man Booker Prize for Bring Up the Bodies (Fourth Estate) the sequel to Wolf Hall which won in 2009. 

"I have to  do something very difficult now," she said in her acceptance speech, "I have to go away and write the third part of a trilogy..."

Mantel is the first British writer - and the first woman - to win the £50,000 prize twice: "a fittingly extraordinary accolade" according to Sir Peter Stothard, who chaired the judging panel this year.

JM Coetzee was the first person to win the prize twice with Life and Times of Michael K (1983) and Disgrace (1999). Peter Carey also achieved the feat with Oscar and Lucinda (1988) and True History of the Kelly Gang (2001). JG Farrell, who won in 1973 for The Siege of Krishnapur, also received a second prize when the Lost Man Booker Prize for 1970 was posthumously awarded to him for Troubles in 2010.

Bring Up The Bodies was the favourite with the bookies, punters and readers alike. Of all the longlisted titles it was the most highly rated by GoodReads members. (For the record, I can only find two other novels eligible for this year's prize with, at the time of writing, comparably high ratings: Harmattan by Gavin Weston and Pig Iron by Benjamin Myers, which was the runner-up in The Guardian's as-controversial-as-ever Not-the-Booker Prize.)

The historian Amanda Foreman, who was one of the judges, revealed that the words 'like' and 'dislike' were "roundly discouraged" in their deliberations. "Taste is not the same as aesthetic judgment," she said, "A literary critic doesn’t deserve the title if she can’t differentiate between the two."

The other three judges were academics Dinah Birch and Bharat Tandon, and the actor Dan StevensBetween them they read, and re-read, 145 novels. "It was hard work," Peter Stothard told The Independent, "In a normal year, you might read 20 novels. So to read 145 in seven months is an unnatural act."

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