Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mantel's Booker win hailed

HarperCollins c.e.o. Victoria Barnsley praised the judges' decision to award Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, the £50,000 Man Booker Prize as a "brave choice", while the newspapers heralded it as variously a "spot on" and "perfect" decision.

Speaking to The Bookseller at the winners' afterparty at The Union Club in Soho, central London, Barnsley said: “It’s great for HarperCollins, and it’s great for Fourth Estate. I actually think it was quite a brave choice for the judges, when people might have thought someone shouldn’t win it twice. But the best book won, and the best writer won. Hilary must be seen now as the our most important British novelist.”

Christopher Potter, the former Fourth Estate publisher who originally brought Mantel to the company, said: “This is evidence if ever it were needed that editors should put their trust in writers who they think are talented, and stick by them. It may take some time to get the recognition they deserve, but it does come.”
Simon Johnson, group m.d. of HarperCollins UK said: “We’re all absolutely delighted. It’s a brilliant book, and an amazing author. Listening to the speech beforehand I think people felt the decision had gone a different way—no one knew until the last minute. It was just such a strong book, we knew it had a good chance.”

Meanwhile, Justine Jordan writing in the Guardian called it an "unprecedented year for the Man Booker", and said the novel shows all of its readers that historical fiction is relevant to our own times. She added that "in some ways it make sense to set a double crown on our most brilliant English writer". She concluded: "And so the judges have rewarded a popular and brilliant book-again—and left a poisoned chalice for whoever is on the panel when the third part of Mantel's trilogy comes out".
In the Times, literary editor Erica Wagner said the judges had got it "spot on" in choosing Bring Up the Bodies, saying it is "leaner, more brilliant, more shocking than its predecessor" Wolf Hall, and a work showcasing the "breathtaking power of imagination".

In the Daily Mail, Sandra Parsons called Bring Up the Bodies "simply exceptional, a book of immense power that sweeps you effortlessly into a world you thought was familiar, but come to realise you barely knew until now", and added: "I can't think of a better book—for once, the Man Booker judges have chosen not just well, but perfectly."

In a report from the Booker Prize dinner in the Daily Telegraph, Sameer Rahim reported "no hint of haughtiness" in Mantel's acceptance speech, and said: "Mantel's extraordinary achievement has been to animate that image [of Henry VIII] as a convincingly insecure, tender . . . and violent man served by the ruthlessly progressive enforcer Cromwell. When she accepted her prize, Mantel was modest enough to say she did not expect to be standing on the podium when the third volume is published. But I wouldn't bet against it."

To read extracts and reviews from all the Booker-shortlisted authors, plus more Booker coverage, visit

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