Author Mantel eyes Booker history, Self a contender

Fri Oct 12, 2012 7:56am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Hilary Mantel could become the first woman to win the coveted Man Booker Prize for fiction twice with her historical novel "Bring Up the Bodies", the bookmakers' favorite alongside Will Self's "Umbrella".

The annual literary award to an author from the Commonwealth, Zimbabwe or Ireland will be handed out at a glitzy dinner in London on Tuesday, and the build-up this year has been dominated by 60-year-old Mantel.

She won the Booker in 2009 with "Wolf Hall", her acclaimed 650-page historical novel charting Thomas Cromwell's rise to power in King Henry VIII's court, and is in contention again for the sequel.

Were she to win, she would become not only the first female the "do the double" but also the first British writer. South Africa-born J.M. Coetzee and Australian Peter Carey have won the prize twice.

"There has been discussion, I know, about the pros and cons of Mantel advancing so far in the prize again so soon," said Peter Stothard, chair of the Man Booker judging panel and editor of the Times Literary Supplement.

"The judges noted Mantel's even greater mastery of method now," he added.

Mantel could be back in the frame yet again in 2015, when the third and final installment of her Cromwell trilogy, "The Mirror and the Light", is due to hit the shelves.

"MOVING AND DRAINING"   Continued...

Author Hilary Mantel poses with her book "Wolf Hall" after winning the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Fiction at the Guildhall in London October 6, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor