Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Mantel wins Booker in split vote

The historical novelist Hilary Mantel has captured the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Wolf Hall, described by the Times as a “650-page doorstopper about political manoeuvring at the court of Henry VIII.”

The prize jury split three-to-two between Mantel’s novel and another book that James Naughtie, the jury’s foreman, declined to name. Wolf Hall beat out Sarah Waters’s Little Stranger, my own favorite, along with A. S. Byatt’s Children’s Book and J. M. Coetzee’s Summertime.

In the Guardian, Claire Armistead regrets the awarding of the prize, saying ruefully that Mantel’s loyal readers “have always regarded her as our secret.” As someone who enjoys a well-researched historical novel—a genre that often performs the job of reenacting history better than academic historiography—I have to say that the Booker has accomplished its goal of creating at least one new reader for its prize-winner.

Wolf Hall has yet to be released in this country, however.


Anonymous said...

I have always meant to read Mantel, and as a 16th century history major (albeit long ago) I would have put this book on my list had I known about it (I guess because not yet out in the US, I had seen no reviews). This is an interesting choice, although several of the competitors are clearly outstanding candidates also.

R. T. said...

_Wolf Hall_ hits bookstore shelves on 10/13/09. My reading of my advance review copy has been slow going. The slowness is a factor of my schedule rather than the book's qualities. I'm convinced of Mantel's talents as an exquisite wordsmith but at this early stage of my reading, I remain unconvinced of the novel's overall merits. It is, however, much more readable than A. S. Byatt's meandering, sleep-inducing door-stopper, _The Children's Book_, which I have also begun but with much less enthusiasm.