Hilary Mantel's "Wolf Hall" wins Man Booker Prize 2009

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The 2009 Man Booker Prize has been awarded to British author Hilary Mantel for her historical novel Wolf Hall. 57 other authors were short-listed, including former winners AS Byatt and JM Coetzee, as well as Sarah Waters, whose book, The Little Stranger, has sold more copies than Wolf Hall.

I can tell you at this moment I am happily flying through the air.

—Hilary Mantel

The winning novel tells the tale of Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to Tudor king Henry VIII. In her acceptance speech, Mantel said "I can tell you at this moment I am happily flying through the air."

Mantel was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 2006, 21 years after her first novel, Every Day is Mother's Day, was published in 1985. Wolf Hall was the longest book on the list.

The decision was not unanimous, but all 5 judges were happy to award Mantel the trophy £50,000 prize at the London Guildhall. The judges assert that, despite differing opinions, the decision was not a compromise. James Naughtie said, "When we gathered this morning none of us knew which book was going to win. I think we all felt exhausted at the end of the process but there was real feeling that we had found a book that was worthy of the prize."

The judges this year were Lucasta Miller, a biographer and critic; Professor John Mullan; James Naughtie, the chairman of judges; Sue Perkins, a comedian, journalist, and broadcaster; and Michael Prodger, the literary editor of The Sunday Telegraph;.

According to Ladbrokes bookmakers, the novel was the clear favourite, with 80% of people betting on it. Some thought this backing would go against the book, since the last time the bookmakers' favourite won was in 2002, when the prize was given to Yann Martel's The Life of Pi.