Tuesday, 6 October 2009

A Booker Prize for Hilary Mantel

If the historical novel is enjoying a resurgence, as the commentators seem to be saying this evening at the Guild Hall, then I'm all for it; and if a novel clocking in at 600pp+ is commended both for its ambition and for the demands placed upon the reader by its hefty proportions, then I'm ready to raise a cheer too. Mantel clearly has a good nose for subjects in general, and in this case - Thomas Cromwell - I'd say particularly so.
I've taken Wolf Hall onto the tube with me a few times in the last fortnight, just because I happen to be commuting into town daily at present. I can't say I've cracked too far into it as yet. But then that's the Long Novel for you, isn't it? It reveals its delights slowly, repays revisiting, is meant to live by one's bedside or in one's saddlebag a while, take a few knocks and so become a trusted friend in the process - rather than, say, the fairweathers and the one-night-flings that one tends to buy in airports and leave behind in hotel rooms... But then I suppose part of the joy of the Booker, and the attendant boon for Hilary Mantel's pocketbook, is that her ostensibly daunting novel will now attract some of those more casual/promiscuous customer-readers too...

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