Man Booker winner 2012: Hilary Mantel

So who saw that coming? Hilary Mantel won again! She is now the third author to have won the Booker twice – the other two are J.M. Coetzee and Peter Carey. So three authors have won the Booker prize twice and that’s pretty impressive. However, Hilary Mantel is the first to have won for the two first books in a trilogy. She’s the first to have won for a sequel. She’s the first woman to have won the award twice. She’s even the first British writer to have won the award twice! I can’t believe what pressure that much put on her when she sits down to write the third one!


Anyway, Hilary Mantel has now won for both Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, the first two books in her trilogy about Thomas Cromwell. Wolf Hall is about Thomas Cromwell’s rise to fame and succeeding in getting Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn married. In Bring up the Bodies, Anne has overstayed her welcome and now Thomas Cromwell has to orchestrate her fall from grace.

It’s interesting to hear that Man Booker judge Amanda Foreman says that until the very last day, the judges hadn’t yet decided on who was going to win. She says the focus was on the novels, not the novelist. All in all, there was 145 entries – 30 of these were of former winners and finalists. Apparently, if you have won the Booker or have been on the shortlist, your next books also gets a chance to win it. The rest of the entries had to be nominated by their publishers.

I think this way of deciding who’s in the competition, rather interesting. If you are on the shortlist, you get another go – if not, it’s the publisher that nominate you. Not book stores, sales numbers or the public. But out of these 145 books, the judges’ task is to find the best book. And according to the judges, that book is Bring up the Bodies:

It was getting towards 3pm when Stothard held up his hand and declared it was apparent that Hilary Mantel was the winner. It was not that we were tired of deliberating, or that there was nothing more to be said about the books. But the strain of our discussions had become clear. Mantel had achieved an insurmountable measure of excellence that we all recognised and applauded. Only later did we take a step back to consider her great achievement as the first woman and first Briton to win the Man Booker twice. For us, our satisfaction is the knowledge that this feat was never a consideration.

Source:  Amanda Foreman: We were choosing the best novel of the year for the Telegraph

The big question now of course is: Will Hilary Mantel win again in 2015 for The Mirror and the Light, the third book in the trilogy?

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The Man Booker prize 2012 shortlist

Each year, I wish I had the time to read the Man Booker longlist when it comes out and then be able to form my own opinion about which book is the best one and then complain about the judges if they don’t get it right. However, so far this year – like every year! – I haven’t even read a single page of any of them… But there’s always next year…!

And now the shortlist is out. And even though I haven’t read any of these, I’m still going to talk about the list:

  • Jeet Thayil: Nacropolis. This debut novel about drugs, sex, perversion, death and more, starts in Bombay in the 70s as it’s main protagonist arrives from New York and soon discovers opium dens, brothels and other entertainment the city has to offer.
  • Deborah Levy: Swimming Home. Taking place over just one week, this novel explores the effect depression can have on otherwise stable people. This could be a really interesting read!
  • Hilary Mantel: Bring Up the Bodies. The second book about Thomas Cromwell. This one focuses on his dealing with Anne Boleyn after she has lost the king’s favor after failing to give him a son. Can Mantel win again? Only two authors have won the award twice, J.M. Coetzee and Peter Carey. Only time will tell…
  • Alison Moore: The Lighthouse. A middle-aged man looks past on his childhood and something he neglected to do that now seems to have repercussions in the present.
  • Will Self: The Umbrella. In his attempt to understand the nature of the modern world, Umbrella follows the story of feminist Audrey Death who falls victim to the encephalitis lethargic epidemic and her doctor.
  • Tan Twan Eng: The Garden of Evening Mists. A young girl is apprenticed to the owner of a Japanese garden so she can design a garden dedicated to the memory of her sister.


I’m a bit sad that Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry didn’t make it to the shortlist since it was one of the books I really wanted to read. On the shortlist, I’m most interested in Swimming HomeThe Lighthouse and Umbrella. And I’ll definitely read Bring Up the Bodies to see if I like it better – or is better able to appreciate it – than I was Wolf Hall.

6 books are left to battle it out. Of these, I have read … exactly none. But I have read books by two of the authors, Will Self and Hilary Mantel. I’ve read How the Dead Live and Wolf Hall. While feeling both were intelligent, clever books, I didn’t love any of them. I have no idea who will win this year – I can hardly think that Mantel will take home another one, however, I don’t think the Booker takes that into account, nor that it gives out the award to the person who deserves it after many years of ‘faithful service’, as the Oscar does.

Apparently, at this point, the judges have read the longlisted books at least twice. These six remaining from the long list are simply the six best books, according to the judges. Now, of course, we have to wait and see which one book will emerge from this group as this year’s winner.

Looking forward to October 16th!

Read more on the official Man Booker site.