Hilary Mantel has won the Man Booker Prize, the £50,000 ($80,000) award that is one of the world's most prestigious prizes for a novel in English, for Bring Up the Bodies, the second in her trilogy of novels about Thomas Cromwell.
She was named winner Tuesday in London.
Mantel becomes only the third author, after Peter Carey and J.M. Coetzee, to win the Man Booker Prize twice. She won in 2009 for Wolf Hall, the first book in the Cromwell series.
Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies continues the story of King Henry VIII’s fixer, whom she portrayed as a charming and cosmopolitan man skilled at court intrigue in Wolf Hall.
Bring Up the Bodies is a darker book, which chronicles the fall of Anne Boleyn, as well as the religious extremes of Tudor England.
"You wait 20 years for a Booker Prize, and two come along at once," Mantel said as she accepted the award at London's medieval Guildhall. "I regard this as an act of faith and a vote of confidence."
Judges’ chair Peter Stothard said Bring Up the Bodies "utterly surpassed" Wolf Hall and said Mantel "has rewritten the book on writing historical fiction."
In retelling the story of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn she is dealing with one of the best-known pieces of English history, which has been retold in novel and film form in numerous ways.
"This is all well-trodden territory with an inevitable outcome, and yet she is able to bring it to life as though for the first time," Stothard said.
He compared Mantel’s portrayal of Cromwell to Don Corleone. "There is certainly a Godfather element to this book, including the moral ambiguity," he said.
Mantel was chosen from a short list of six writers. The other finalists:
- Tan Twan Eng, The Garden of Evening Mists.
- Deborah Levy, Swimming Home.
- Alison Moore, The Lighthouse.
- Will Self, Umbrella.
- Jeet Thayil, Narcopolis.
The BBC has bought the rights to Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, and is turning them into a six-part period drama.
Mantel is currently writing the final instalment in the trilogy, The Mirror and the Light.