More news of awards, yes, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the continued astonishing success in that field of Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies, which this week followed its history-making Man Booker win with another notable first as Mantel took home the title of 2012 Book of the Year at the Costa Book Awards. Having already made its author the first woman in Booker history to win that prize twice, and earned her a second UK Author of the Year prize at the National Book Awards, the book is now the first ever to win both the Booker and the Costa (formerly the Whitbread). Mantel’s fellow nominees were Kathleen Jamie for The Overhaul, Sally Gardner for Maggot Moon, Francesca Segal for The Innocents and Mary and Bryan Talbot for Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes.
Head of the Costa juding panel Jenni Murray stressed that not only was the decision of her fellow judges to award Mantel the £30,000 prize ‘unanimous’, but that Mantel’s having won the Booker previously was ‘completely irrelevant’ to them.
Mantel herself directly addressed her book’s total domination of awards ceremonies these past few months, with The Bookseller quoting her as saying: ‘There was an article in the press a couple of days ago which suggested Thomas Cromwell and I were moving over the writing of England flattening young talent like a steamroller, and if I won any more awards, I’d have to start apologising [...] I’m not going to apologise, I’m going to say thank you, particularly to the judges for not letting anyone tell them how to do their job [...] and I will make it my business to write more books that will be worth prizes.’ So there.
Speaking from an industry standpoint, Waterstones spokesman Jon Howells welcomed the news of Mantel’s further success: ‘We’ll see her sales increase again because of this and hopefully, what will be happening now is, once you reach everyone who would want to read Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, people will start reading her backlist, which has some very different but equally impressive titles, built up over a 20-year period.’
Mantel has published thirteen books, including a memoir and a volume of short stories, since 1985. Bring Up the Bodies has to date sold over 290,000 copies across hardback and e-books in the UK alone, with a paperback run of a further 100,000 copies imminent.