The winner of this year’s Man Booker Prize has been announced: it’s Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.
No surprise, it was this year’s favourite. She has beaten excellent writers such as A.S. Byatt and J.M. Coetzee (the favourite in my poll!).
I have never read a novel by Hilary Mantel and I didn’t know her name before reading about her nomination, but apparently she has written ten novels before this one. It’s sad when an author is awarded such an important prize and you had never heard of her/him or read one of his/her books. Wait for the next post on the Nobel Prize for Literature and you'll have the same reaction you had last year: uh?
Wolf Hall is a piece of historical fiction (most books in the shortlist were) concerning Thomas Cromwell, an adviser of King Henry VIII. It’s not exactly a quick read, the hard back being exactly 672 pages long, but most people who have read it think it’s really worth it.
James Naughtie, chair of judges said :
Hilary Mantel has given us a thoroughly modern novel set in the 16th century. Wolf Hall has a vast narrative sweep that gleams on every page with luminous and mesmerising detail. ... It probes the mysteries of power by examining and describing the meticulous dealings in Henry VIII's court, revealing in thrilling prose how politics and history is made by men and women. ... In the words of Mantel's Thomas Cromwell, whose story this is, "the fate of peoples is made like this, two men in small rooms. Forget the coronations, the conclaves of cardinals, the pomp and processions. This is how the world changes."
Other posts on this year's Man Booker Prize: longlist and comment (here) and shortlist and comment (here). On last year's Booker Prize, won by Araving Adiga's The White Tiger, here and here.
By the way, Not the Booker Prize, the competition created by Sam Jordison of The Guardian has been won by Rana Dasgupta’s Solo. I don’t know if he’s a good fiction writer (yes, it’s a man!) but I’ve read some of his articles published in English newspapers and he seems to be pretty good at writing.