On Tuesday, Hillary Mantel became the first woman author to win the Man Booker prize for fiction for the second time with “Bring Up the Bodies,” the sequel to “Wolf Hall.” Only two other authors, both male, are known to have won a second Booker prize in their lifetimes – J.M. Coetzee (born in South Africa) and Peter Carey, Australia. Peter Stothard, the chair of judges of the award said Mantel was the “greatest modern English prose writer” and said she had rewritten the art of writing historical fiction.
“Wolf Hall,” which brought her first Booker is a re-imagining of the rise of Thomas Cromwell from the position of the son of a blacksmith to the most powerful person in King Henry VIII’s court. The book received the $80,000 prize in 2009. “Bring Up the Bodies,” the sequel to Wolf Hall portrays the dramatic fall from grace of Anne Boleyn, and her consequent execution in 1536.
Mantel joked while receiving the award on Monday, “Well, I don’t know, you wait 20 years for a Booker prize and two come along at once.” The final part of the epic trilogy, “The Mirror and the Light” is expected to be released in 2015.
Mantel told the audience, “I have to go away and write the third part of the trilogy. I assure you I have no expectation that I will be standing here (again).”
Always one to deliver something for the audience to lap up, in 2009, when asked what she was going to do with the prize money, Mantel’s answer was, “Sex and drugs and rock and roll.” This time, when asked the same question, her answer was “Rehab.”
When told that she was the best writer today, she said, “You are only as good as your last paragraph and I haven’t even written one of those today.”