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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935