Bring Up the Booker

Yesterday the prestigious Man Booker prize was awarded, breaking two important records in the process. The lucky recipient Hilary Mantel became the first woman to win the award twice, and the first author to win it for a consecutive sequel.

British author Mantel won her first Booker prize in 2009 with the historical fiction novel Wolf Hall. The story follows “the rapid rise to power of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII of England.” From there, Mantel set to work on creating a trilogy from the acclaimed novel. Bring Up the Bodies, the winner of this year’s Man Booker prize, is the second installment in that trilogy. The novel picks up where its predecessor left off, detailing Anne Boleyn’s fall from grace and eventual execution.

Sir Peter Stothard, chairman of the judging committee, had high praise for both Mantel and Bring Up the Bodies:

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.

Canadian author Margaret Atwood, five times shortlisted for the Booker prize herself, had equally raving comments for Mantel in her Guardian review of Bring Up the Bodies from May of this year:

Literary invention does not fail her: she’s as deft and verbally adroit as ever.

On top of those accolades, Mantel will take home a £50,000 prize, not to mention a massive boost in sales. So influential is the award on readers, that revenue for every Booker winner increases by at least £1m. When Yan Martel took home the Booker in 2002, his novel Life of Pi soared to over £10m in sales (that’s over $16m). Although, we wouldn’t say that Mantel’s sales of her latest book are exactly suffering…

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.

Add to that the fact that Mantel’s first two installments of the trilogy have already been set to be adapted into a BBC TV series, and we’re sure the author is quite happy with her recent success.

In fact, her happy disbelief came across onstage as she accepted her award with a quip:

You wait 20 years for a Booker Prize and two come along at once.

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.

Congratulations to Hilary Mantel, not just for winning this award, prestigious in its own right, but for winning it twice and being the first woman to do so. Cheers!

No doubt our fascination with all things Tudor and deliciously bloodthirsty will continue when Mantel releases the finale to her trilogy, which she has already named The Mirror and the Light. Perhaps the third time will be a charm that brings this writer another feather in her already impressive cap.


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