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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Bring up the Bodies: the right choice for Man Booker Prize winner

I really didn’t expect to be saying this today – but I think the judges made the right choice.  I mis-judged them.  I expected them to pick something pretentious, and literary (un-readable) and probably would have put my money on Will Self. 

But I admit, I was wrong.  They chose a novel which is readable and engrossing, yet clearly original and deeply skilled.  This novel managed to turn me on to historical fiction, a genre I had always denegrated. More to the point, it clearly met my criteria (which I know the MBP judges had been having sleepless nights about):

It wasn’t all doom and gloom – despite telling what is a fundamentallt depressing story, there were regular moments of humanity and humour which kept it alive for me.

Things happened – even though I knew the basic premise, there were plenty of twists and turns to keep me guessing.  But that didn’t mean Mantel skimped on the characterisation – the characters were well-rounded, unusual and fascinating.

It was quoteable – I underlined more sections of this novel on my kindle than any other book I read as part of this project.

It was memorable – I read this in early August.  Two months later, I can still picture the scenes and even smell some of the smells.  I have read more than ten books inbetween, almost none of which I could say the same of.

Bring up the Bodies. A good choice.  The right choice.

Now that doesn’t mean it was my favourite.  For me, that was far and away The Garden of Evening Mists.  But I can accept that, although the plotline and characterisation were spectacular, and the language spookily evocative, this was a less original and less skilled novel.  The Man Booker judges did well to balance readability and skill and have earned my respect.

I never thought I’d say this, but I may well do this again next year.  As Bring up the Bodies tells us:

“There are no endings.  If you think so you are deceived by their nature.  They are all beginnings”.