The second book in Hilary Mantel’s trilogy fictionally chronicling the life of 16th century English statesman Thomas Cromwell has become the first sequel to ever win a Man Booker.
The first installment, Wolf Hall, won three years ago. This year’s winner, Bring Up the Bodies, drew fine praise from the Man Booker judges. From The Guardian:
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 wins in a tight field that included Will Self’s highly favored Umbrella; The Garden of Evening Mists, by Tan Twan Eng; Deborah Levy's Swimming Home; and two debuts: Alison Moore's The Lighthouse and Jeet Thayil's Narcopolis.
Mantel, who has embarked on writing the third instalment, said the award was a "vote of confidence" and "act of faith". But is it not also enormous pressure? She told journalists: "When I start writing it I'll forget all of this because every day has its new problems … it's you struggling with your subject matter and a blank screen."
She said Bring Up the Bodies was "a more fully achieved book than Wolf Hall. Formally, it probably has the edge."