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Hilary Mantel wins Man Booker Prize for Bring up the Bodies

17th October 2012 - 8:31am

Hilary Mantel has become the first woman and the first British author to win the coveted Man Booker Prize twice.

She triumphed with her novel Bring up the Bodies, the sequel to her lauded Thomas Cromwell history Wolf Hall, which won in 2009.

Mantel becomes the first author to win the prize with a sequel, while the three-year gap between her victories represents the shortest interlude between wins.

Bring up the Bodies charts the bloody downfall of Anne Boleyn. A third instalment in the series, The Mirror and the Light, will continue Oliver Cromwell's story until his execution in 1540.

'Well I don't know,' Mantel said on collecting the prestigious GBP 50,000 prize at London's Guildhall last night. '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,' she added.

Sir Peter Stothard, chair of the Booker judges, described Mantel as the 'greatest modern English prose writer' working today, saying she had 'rewritten the book on writing historical fiction'.

'This is a bloody story about the death of Anne Boleyn, but Hilary Mantel is a writer who thinks through the blood. She uses her power of prose to create moral ambiguity and the real uncertainty of political life,' he said.

Mantel is only the third double winner of the award, after J. M. Coetzee (Life & Times of Michael K, Disgrace) and Peter Carey (Oscar and Lucinda and True History of the Kelly Gang).

Together with the GBP 50,000 cheque she also received GBP 2,500 for being shortlisted, along with the other five novelists who had been in the running.

Will Self's Umbrella was among the favourites to win, as well as Swimming Home by Deborah Levy.

Two of the shortlisted books were debut novels – Jeet Thayil's Narcopolis and Alison Moore's The Lighthouse. The Garden Of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng completed the shortlist.

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