You are here

The energising of Hilary Mantel

The energising of Hilary Mantel

In a fascinating interview this week the Man Booker grandee Hilary Mantel explained how the experience of adapting Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies for the stage has “energised” her. She is now, she says, “buzzing with ideas; as keen to write, and probably keener, than I have ever been before in my life”. She is learning from the actors and feeding that knowledge into the third part of her Cromwell trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, which is “unspooling” before her eyes. She still has no completion date in mind though “because this is the big project of my career and it has to be right, not only for all those readers who are waiting for it, but for me too”. She has apparently “had a go” at Cromwell's own execution scene. Did it make her cry? “No. But the readers will.” Hankies at the ready . . .

Two of the Man Booker class of 2013 have been included on the shortlist for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. Eleanor Catton (The Luminaries) and Jim Crace (Harvest) will face this year's Costa Prize winner Kate Atkinson, as well as Robert Harris, Andrew Greig and Ann Weisgarber in what the judges are dubbing “the toughest choice, from the strongest longlist, in the prize’s five year history”. The winner, announced on 13th June, will receive £25,000.

Jhumpa Lahiri, another of last year's Man Booker shortlistees, is one of the six novelists shortlisted for this year's Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction. The Lowland needs to see off the not-inconsiderable figure of Donna Tartt and then a cohort of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Hannah Kent, Eimar McBride and Audrey Magee to pick up the £30,000 prize on 4th June.

Time to put a note in your diary, or rather several. Kazuo Ishiguro (Man Booker winner in 1989 with The Remains of the Day), Peter Carey (double winner with Oscar and Lucinda in 1988 and True History of the Kelly Gang in 2001) and A.D. Miller (shortlisted in 2011 for Snowdrops) all have new novels scheduled. Ishiguro's The Buried Giant, his first novel since 2005's Man Booker shortlisted Never Let Me Go, is scheduled for spring next year; it is, said his publisher (as he would), “as surprising, moving and brilliant as you could hope for, and we can't wait to publish”. Carey's Amnesia comes out in November (a teaser site featuring some computer code is up and running), and Miller's The Faithful Couple in the spring of 2015.

The biographer Claire Tomalin, a Man Booker judge back in 1980, has just been announced as the chair of the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize judges. The panel for the Samuel Johnson, the Man Booker's non-fiction twin, also includes Ruth Scurr, a Man Booker judge in 2007. Tomalin comes trailing some stardust on her coat tails: The Invisible Woman, the film adaptation of her study of Dickens's lover Ellen Ternan, which has Ralph Fiennes playing the writer, has been receiving rapturous reviews.