It's official: Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall (John Macrae Books, Henry Holt & Co.) is the winner of the Man Booker Prize for 2009.
Yes, this is a time for the author to be in the spotlight, but there's always more to the story, and in books, getting something done takes more than a village. It usually takes the perseverance of an extraordinary advocate, and in her publisher, Jack Macrae, Hilary Mantel had just that. "I never believed in prizes until this one," said Jack, publisher of John Macrae Books. "She is so deserving. What she has put into everything she has done is now finally going to be recognized. I'm just thrilled."
There has never been a greater nurturer of talent than Jack Macrae, whether it is one of his many beloved authors or a young editor, publicist, copyeditor or designer. And there has never been a greater advocate for a book. "So many things happened to call attention to it," he said. But he's been fighting for Hilary for a decade or more and knowing Jack, the attention came because he doesn't stop working for his authors once the manuscript is edited. He never leaves a stone unturned and these days, that kind of determination is rare. But the results are clear and Hilary Mantel is one lucky author.
The Booker Prize awards outstanding fiction from the UK and Ireland each year, and has done so for over 40 years. Past winners include last year's The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga, 2007's The Gathering, by Anne Enright, and 2006's The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai. As this year's winner, Mantel will receive a 50,000 pound prize along with a huge boost to sales.
"The Man Booker judges," declares the prize's website, "are selected from the country's finest critics, writers and academics to maintain the consistent excellence of the prize." This year's judges were James Naughtie, who served as Chair; Lucasta Miller, a biographer and critic; Michael Prodger, Literary Editor of The Sunday Telegraph; John Mullan, academic, journalist and broadcaster; and Sue Perkins, comedian and broadcaster. (For more on the judges, click here.)
Wolf Hall was chosen from six titles. The shortlist for 2009 included A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book, J M Coetzee, Summertime, Adam Foulds' The Quickening Maze, Simon Mawer's The Glass Room and Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger.