UPDATE 1-Author Mantel eyes Booker history, Self a contender


(adds latest odds from Ladbrokes)

By Mike Collett-White

LONDON, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Hilary Mantel could become thefirst woman to win the coveted Man Booker Prize for fictiontwice with her historical novel "Bring Up the Bodies", thebookmakers' favourite alongside Will Self's "Umbrella".

The annual literary award to an author from theCommonwealth, Zimbabwe or Ireland will be handed out at a glitzydinner in London on Tuesday, and the build-up this year has beendominated by 60-year-old Mantel.

She won the Booker in 2009 with "Wolf Hall", her acclaimed650-page historical novel charting Thomas Cromwell's rise topower in King Henry VIII's court, and is in contention again forthe sequel.

Were she to win, she would become not only the first femalethe "do the double" but also the first British writer. SouthAfrica-born J.M. Coetzee and Australian Peter Carey have won theprize twice.

"There has been discussion, I know, about the pros and consof Mantel advancing so far in the prize again so soon," saidPeter Stothard, chair of the Man Booker judging panel and editorof the Times Literary Supplement.

"The judges noted Mantel's even greater mastery of methodnow," he added.

Mantel could be back in the frame yet again in 2015, whenthe third and final instalment of her Cromwell trilogy, "TheMirror and the Light", is due to hit the shelves.


The author has admitted that despite the trilogy's criticaland commercial success so far, much was still riding on thefinal chapter of a 10-year writing odyssey.

"If I get the third book right then in a sense my whole lifewill have come right," she told Reuters in June. "But if Idon't, then I am going to see it as a failure. In my mind it isall one long project."

Self's Umbrella was described by Stothard as "both movingand draining", a reference to some 400 pages without paragraphbreaks or chapter divisions.

But he added that the tale about a misdiagnosed woman in anorth London mental hospital would prove "much less difficultthan at first it seems" to those who stuck with it.

Mantel and Self have taken turns at the top of bookmakers'betting lists.

Mantel edged out Self in odds offered by Paddy Power onThursday with Bring Up the Bodies at 6/4 after leap-froggingUmbrella at 9/4.

But on Friday, Ladbrokes said Self had attracted a series ofbets in the last two days making him 2/1 "hot" favourite aheadof Mantel at 5/2.

The other four shortlisted writers are Deborah Levy("Swimming Home"), Malaysia's Tan Twan Eng ("The Garden ofEvening Mists") and first-time novelists Alison Moore ("TheLighthouse") and Indian author Jeet Thayil ("Narcopolis").

The winner of the Man Booker Prize receives a cheque for50,000 pounds ($80,000), international literary kudos and,perhaps most importantly, a significant spike in sales.

Research by the Guardian newspaper showed that Mantel's WolfHall, for example, sold 35,900 copies before the award wasannounced and nearly 600,000 afterwards.

The year before, Aravind Adiga's "The White Tiger" had soldjust 5,703 copies before it won the Booker, rising nearly ahundredfold to 551,061 afterwards.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Steve Addison)

((Mike.Collett-White@thomsonreuters.com)(tel: +44 7990 560229))