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
Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

film
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment

film
  • Get to the point
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.

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...