Booker Prize 2012: Hilary Mantel could become first British writer to win the literary prize twice after Bring up the Bodies makes shortlist

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The judges hailed the second novel in Ms Mantel’s trilogy about the life of Thomas Cromwell as having “even greater mastery” than its predecessor Wolf Hall, which won the Booker in 2009.

Hilary Mantel could become the first British writer to win the Booker Prize twice, after Bring up the Bodies was named on the six-strong shortlist for this year’s award.

The judges hailed the second novel in Ms Mantel’s trilogy about the life of Thomas Cromwell as having “even greater mastery” than its predecessor Wolf Hall, which won the Booker in 2009.

The shortlist also included Deborah Levy’s first novel in over a decade, a book that had been rejected by traditional publishers, and was funded by an innovative subscription model instead.

Click here or on "View Gallery" to see the shortlist in pictures

Sir Peter Stothard, chair of the judges and editor of the Times Literary Supplement, said: “This has been an exhilarating year for fiction, the strongest, I would say, for more than a decade.”

He defended the choice of Ms Mantel’s work again making the shortlist saying: “It of course drew us into a critical comparison with its predecessor”. Yet, he continued: “The judges this year noted her even greater mastery of method now. Her powerful realism in the separation of past and present, and the vivid depiction of English character and landscape.”

Only two writers have won the award twice, and neither were British. Sir Peter said: “The accolade of Peter Carey and JM Coetzee is legitimately there to be won if the novel, not the novelist is deemed the best.” Bookies Ladbrokes immediately installed her as the favourite.

Ms Mantel will compete against Will Self, nominated for his book Umbrella. Sir Peter called the pair: “Two of the great established radicals of contemporary literature.”

The modernist work, Self’s ninth novel, is about a woman confined to a psychiatric hospital. It has no chapters and paragraph breaks are rare, with reviewers pointing to the influence of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Sir Peter said: “This novel is both moving and draining. The judges placed Umbrella on the shortlist with the conviction that those who stick with it will find it much less difficult than it first seems.”

The addition of Ms Levy’s Swimming Home was a surprise as it had initially failed to pick up mainstream publisher, instead turning to And Other Stories. The judges felt it had technical artistry, flowing prose “and a little Gatsby too”.

Sir Peter declined to criticise the industry for missing out on a gem, although “I hope they will take some notice of us”. He added: “The beauty of being a Man Booker judge purely and solely on the merits of the text; not how many you think it is going to sell.”

At the longlist announcement, Sir Peter said the “new have powered through” and two first novels made it through the shortlist: Alison Moore’s The Lighthouse and Indian poet Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis.

It was rounded out by The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng, who had been longlisted in 2007 for his debut novel The Gift of Rain. One judge described its beauty as similar to “slowly clashing icebergs”.

The judges, who also comprise Dinah Birch, professor of English literature at the University of Liverpool, Historian and author Amanda Foreman, Downton Abbey actor Dan Stevens and academic Bharat Tandon, took more than three hours to whittle the longlist down.

Ms Birch said: “We often disagreed but we never quarrelled. It was quite painful to lose some of the books. It wasn’t a bloodless process by any means.”

Sir Peter concluded: “We found the six books most likely to last and repay future re-reading. These are very different books but they show a huge and visible confidence.”

The shortlist:

  • Tan Twan Eng - The Garden Of Evening Mists (Myrmidon Books)
  • Deborah Levy - Swimming Home (And Other Stories/Faber & Faber)
  • Hilary Mantel - Bring Up The Bodies (Fourth Estate)
  • Alison Moore - The Lighthouse (Salt)
  • Will Self - Umbrella (Bloomsbury)
  • Jeet Thayil - Narcopolis (Faber & Faber
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn