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Weekly Roundup: Can Hilary Mantel make history in 2013?

04 January 2013

Hilary Mantel made history in 2012 by becoming the first woman to win the Man Booker Prize twice. Can she make history in 2013 with another first? Bring Up the Bodies has just been named the winner of the Costa Book Awards novels category and is therefore one of the five books eligible for the overall book of year prize. The winner will be announced on 29th January. Curiously no MB-winning book has ever also won the Costa, hence Mantel's shot at further glory. The judges include the actresses Jenny Agutter and Sophie Ward so perhaps Mantel could smooth their thought processes by wangling them roles in the forthcoming BBC2 television adaptation, due later this year.

It is now clear what the 2012 chair of judges, Sir Peter Stothard, daydreamed about when his Man Booker duties became particularly onerous: Cleopatra. The classicist editor of the TLS has a new book – part memoir, part travel book, part history – coming out in June entitled Alexandria: The Last Nights of Cleopatra. Luckily, when working his way through the 140-plus novels submitted for the MB last year he withstood the temptation to clasp an asp to his own breast.

Elizabeth Jane Howard has a blue-blooded literary pedigree: a novelist in her own right, former wife of Kinsley Amis, stepmother to Martin Amis and, oh, Booker judge in 1974. Now 90, she has long been highly rated by aficianados and as a sign of esteem her million-selling novel series The Cazalet Chronicles has been adapted for Radio Four. The 45-parter has just started and missed episodes can be found on the BBC's iPlayer.

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