Archive for October, 2009

Wolf follows Tiger

Hilary Mantel has won the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Wolf Hall, her novel about the life of Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to King Henry VIII.

“At this moment I am happily flying through the air,” Mantel said in her acceptance speech, referring to Peter Carey’s comment that winning the Booker prize was like being in a train crash. Luckily there is a £50,000 prize cheque to cushion her return to earth.

The judges were: John Mullan (Professor of English at University College, London), Lucasta Miller (biographer and critic), Michael Prodger (literary editor of The Sunday Telegraph), comedian Sue Perkins, and, in the chair, BBC broadcaster James Naughtie, who said that Hilary Mantel had “given us a thoroughly modern novel set in the 16th century,” with “a vast narrative sweep that gleams on every page with luminous and mesmerising detail.”

I have to confess that, from a very young age, history always bored the bejeezus out of me, so I find historical fiction a real chore to read, but I will give Wolf Hall a chance; and while I share the unease expressed by AS Byatt over the use of real historical figures as characters in ‘faction’, I suppose it is part of our heritage – whether it be I, Claudius or a horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!

Meanwhile, Rana Dasgupta’s Solo won the shadowy ‘not-the-booker-prize‘ in the Guardian which, as well as being rife with allegations of vote-rigging, suffered from the stumbling block that most of us ordinary folk haven’t had the chance to read many of the books yet. Maybe not-the-booker-prize could be “run five or 10 years retrospectively” as Jenny Colgan suggested of the real thing itself in The Independent recently, in possibly the best article on the Man Booker Prize I’ve ever read (that’s code for ‘OMG an article by someone who likes and dislikes the same books as me!’)


October 6, 2009 at 8:16 pm Leave a comment


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