Party Of The Week: Man, what a great evening...

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The Independent Culture

The great and the good of the literary world congregated in the old library at London's Guildhall for a party – before the announcement of this year's Man Booker prize later that night.

It wasn't a surprise when Hilary Mantel won, with her hefty 650-page Tudor epic Wolf Hall – a fictionalised account of Thomas Cromwell's life. Dressed in a flouncy gold dress more suited to Henry VIII's court, Mantel, a firm favourite to win, mingled with guests including Tina Brown and John Hurt, as well as other short-listed authors. Sarah Waters, whose book The Little Stranger was also up for the award, had been unwell on the eve of the prize, when short-listed authors read from their books at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on London's South Bank, but she had returned to form for the party. TV presenter Mariella Frostrup, Amanda Ross (the brains behind Richard and Judy's Book Club) and Dame Gail Rebuck from Random House, the publishing house who had three books on the short-list, were in deep conversation at the party.

Over dinner in the main hall, the novelist Kate Mosse cosied up to the newly appointed BBC News arts editor, Will Gompertz, who is currently director of Tate Media. A few of last year's short-listed authors also joined the literary bash, including Linda Grant and the Independent columnist Philip Hensher.

The only noticeable absentee was the reclusive author J M Coetzee, whose book Summertime was on this year's short list – but he wasn't even there when he won the Man Booker prize in 1983 and 1999.