Hilary Mantel won the 2012 Man Booker Prize for the novel “Bring Up The Bodies,” the second book in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy. Mantel won the prize for the first book in the series, “Wolf Hall,” in 2009. She is the first woman to be a two-time winner of the prize.
“Well I don’t know,” Mantel said upon taking the stage. “You wait 20 years for a Booker Prize, and two come along at once.”
The Man Booker Prize is Britain’s most prestigious award for literary fiction. Each year, the prize is awarded at a gala event in London; the winner gets about $80,000.
Dan Stevens, who in addition to playing Cousin Matthew on “Downton Abbey,” has been writing a column for the British newspaper the Telegraph and is an editor of the online journal The Junket, served as one of the judges. To make their decision, they read 145 books. “It’s been a slog, but an enjoyable one,” he told the BBC before the announcement. “You have to read them all the way through to make the right critical argument.” The book that was best argued for was Mantel’s.
Before the awards were announced, author and journalist Will Self, shortlisted for the first time for his novel “Umbrella,” was thought to have been the favorite.
The other four books in the running included two by first-time novelists, “The Lighthouse” by Alison Moore and "Narcopolis” by Jeet Thayil. Tan Twan Eng, author of “The Garden of Evening Mists,” was in the running for the prize with his previous book, and longtime literary writer Deborah Levy was short-listed for her book “Swimming Home."
Recent winners of the award include Julian Barnes for “A Sense of An Ending,” Howard Jacobsen for “The Finkler Question,” Aravind Adiga for “The White Tiger," Anne Enright for “The Gathering,” and, of course, Hilary Mantel for “Wolf Hall.”
“I have to do something very diffictulr now. I have to go away and write the third part of the trilogy,” Mantel said. She acknowledged that she didn’t expect to find herself on the Booker stage again, but concluded, “I regard this as an act of faith and a vote of confidence.”