Hilary Mantel Wins the 2012 Booker Prize

The Guardian and other sources report that Hilary Mantel has won the 2012 Man Booker Prize for her novel Bring Up The Bodies.

Bring Up the Bodies continues Mantel’s reappraisal of the Tudor saga through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, a story she began in Wolf Hall, which won the Booker Prize in 2009.

Biblioklept was a fan of both books; check out our reviews of Wolf Hall, and our reviews of Bring Up The Bodies.

The Man Booker site reports that

Hers is a story unique in Man Booker history. She becomes only the third author, after Peter Carey and J.M. Coetzee, to win the prize twice, which puts her in the empyrean. But she is also the first to win with a sequel (Wolf Hall won in 2009) and the first to win with such a brief interlude between books. Her resuscitation of Thomas Crowell – and with him the historical novel – is one of the great achievements of modern literature. There is the last volume of her trilogy still to come so her Man Booker tale may yet have a further chapter.


5 thoughts on “Hilary Mantel Wins the 2012 Booker Prize”

  1. What I just noticed is that there are “silent” and “vocal” literary prizes. At least that’s how it seems to me, there’s nothing to be found concerning the winner’s merits. The Nobel Prize usually has a citation and this year said something about “hallocinatory realism,” which is at least something to pick apart and find bland, but the only thing I could see on the Booker site was this:

    “Her resuscitation of Thomas Crowell – and with him the historical novel – is one of the great achievements of modern literature.”

    Which could not be more generic. The thing is, I now think of the two Mantel books as something vaguely relevant that I should take note of, but there is no more incentive for me to check it out. I guess reading reviews would help that, but shouldn’t prizes also point to aspects of the works that stand out or should be appreciated by readers? A silent prize is little more than an unpaid advertisement.


  2. why am I so deeply and immediately skeptical of these books? I had a friend try to tell me that Wolf Hall was incredible and I just totally shrugged off the recommendation. Maybe the idea of historical novels just sound like bullshit unless I know they are written by Norman Mailer, or maybe it’s because I don’t trust the judgement of the booker prize or something… I don’t know.


    1. The Booker is more or less bullshit, but all literary prizes are bullshit . . . that said, they raise the profile of authors, and usually bequeath a nice monetary prize—so that’s good.
      I think it’s fine to be skeptical—I certainly was—after all, I mean, jesus, who needs another telling of the story of Henry VIII and all his damn wives?
      Mantel’s a very lucid, immediate storyteller, and I was really hooked from the opening passage of Wolf Hall, where she describes Thomas Cromwell’s father beating him.
      The books are very much the story of the beginnings of the Machiavel in English politics—the philosophical underpinnings of modernity, really. Cromwell is fascinating as a hero.
      The easy slag on Mantel’s Tudor novels is that they’re “middlebrow,” which I don’t know, maybe they are—her writing is never turgid or cliched though—she’s incredibly lucid, precise, immediate, and visceral. There’s no shade of purple in her prose, but she can also move the reader. She neither romanticizes the Tudor saga nor turns it into something it’s not—I really liked the two books and am looking forward to the next one.


  3. I agree, Mantels’s immediacy is very alluring. I would though love to have seen a more original work rewarded (as opposed to the second book of a series). I loved both Narcopolis and The Garden of Evening Mists. To my mind they both would have been worthy winners…


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