The bookies’ choice rarely takes Britain’s top literary prize, but this year the hottest favourite in the history of the Booker—and, at 650 pages, one of the longest—took home the $100,000 award in a close-run race. The judges were split between Wolf Hall, Mantel’s densely plotted tale of Thomas Cromwell’s rise to power in the court of Henry VIII , and a rival author’s work, whose identity they did not disclose. In the end, a secret ballot came out 3-2 in favour of Mantel. The other short-listed writers were JM Coetzee and AS Byatt, both former Booker winners, alongside Sarah Waters, Simon Mawer and Adam Foulds. A flurry of bets on Mantel in the weeks leading up to the announcement led William Hill to cut her odds from 16/1 to 10/11. The last bookies’ choice to win was Yann Martel’s Life of Pi in 2002, which went on to sell over one million copies in the UK alone. So far, Wolf Hall has sold 48,000 copies, an impressive number for a hardback historical novel.
Hilary Mantel wins Booker
A rare victory by a favourite