Hilary Mantel repeats Walter Scott Prize success

The author takes top prize for the grand finale of her Thomas Cromwell trilogy

Cover of The Mirror and the Light

Hilary Mantel has managed to bag herself the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction for a second time.

The novelist won the award for her novel The Mirror and the Light, the final instalment in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, the first book in the series, Wolf Hall won her the first award 11 years ago.

The author said she was “amazed and delighted2 to once again win the £25,000 prize.

Mantel will also be taking part in the Borders Book Festival later this year to celebrate her win and mark the 250th anniversary of Walter Scott’s birth.

The Walter Scott award was set up in 2010 when Ms Mantel won the inaugural award for her brilliant novel Wolf Hall.

The award is normally announced at the Borders Book Festival in June however that has been moved back to November in the hopes that it will be able to go ahead with fewer Covid restrictions.

Judges said that Mantel had “achieved the almost unachievable” with a novel which closed a trilogy but could also stand “magnificently alone”.

“With consummate technical skill married to the keenest ear for dialogue and the sharpest eye for rich and telling detail, Hilary Mantel resettles the reader at Thomas Cromwell’s shoulder for a psychodrama that begins and ends with a blade,” they said.

“The finale is both well-known and inevitable and yet – as the judges long pondered with astonished admiration – the suspense never fades.”

The author said that the prize will bring “great hope” to historical fiction authors.

“I’m so happy personally that The Mirror and the Light has won this recognition,” she said.

“It was certainly the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I know the author isn’t always the best person to judge, but it seems to me to be the strongest of my trilogy of novels about Thomas Cromwell.

“It launched the trilogy in fine style when the first volume Wolf Hall won the Walter Scott Prize, and now this rounds off the many years of effort.”

Hilary Mantel up for third Booker prize

It has been announced that Hilary Mantel’s new book, The Mirror and the Light, has been long-listed for the 2020 Booker prize. This puts the British author in the running to win for an unprecedented third time.

The Mirror and the Light is the third book in Mantel’s Cromwell trilogy, it was selected for its “masterful exhibition of sly dialogue and exquisite description,” the judges said.

The 900-page novel begins after the beheading of Anne Boleyn in 1536 and details the final years of Cromwell.

Mantel has won the prize twice previously, both times were for the previous books in the same trilogy.

The long-list will be whittled down from 13 to a shortlist of just six books in September.

There are a number of British nominees this year, including Gabriel Krauze, Douglas Stuart and Sophie Ward.

The Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga was also nominated, like Mantel this is for the third novel in her trilogy.

This year’s long-list features eight debut novels.

Margaret Busby, chair of the 2020 judges, said that each novel on the list was “deserving of wide readership”.

“Included are novels carried by the sweep of history with memorable characters brought to life and given visibility, novels that represent a moment of cultural change, or the pressures an individual faces in pre- and post-dystopian society,” she said in a statement.

“Some of the books focus on interpersonal relationships that are complex, nuanced, emotionally charged. There are voices from minorities often unheard, stories that are fresh, bold and absorbing.”

“The best fiction enables the reader to relate to other people’s lives; sharing experiences that we could not ourselves have imagined is as powerful as being able to identify with characters.”

The shortlist will be announced on 15th September and the final winner of the £50,000 prize will be revealed in November.

The full long-list is as follows:

Diane Cook – The New Wilderness

Tsitsi Dangarembga – This Mournable Body

Avni Doshi – Burnt Suga

Gabriel Krauze – Who They Was

Hilary Mantel – The Mirror & The Light

Colum McCann – Apeirogon

Maaza Mengiste – The Shadow King

Kiley Reid – Such a Fun Age

Brandon Taylor – Real Life

Anne Tyler – Redhead by The Side of The Road

Douglas Stuart – Shuggie Bain

Sophie Ward – Love and Other Thought Experiments

C Pam Zhang – How Much of These Hills is Gold