Hilary Mantel just won the sash for her weighty tome Wolf Hall. I don't know Hilary Mantel from a stick of licorice, but given her prize-related soundbites I'd be honoured to shout her a beer and bowl of peanuts if she's ever in Sydney.
According to the UK's Telegraph, Mantel professed herself “heartened, delighted, encouraged, strengthened and a little bemused” to be the favourite. Yes yes heartened, yawn yawn delighted, but bemused! I do so love a bemused writer (Bob Ellis would be constantly bemused, don't you think?).
Moving on to Mantel's post-prize soundbites, she said: "I hesitated for such a long time before beginning to write this book, actually for about 20 years."
And, she was good enough to provide a soundbite for the morbidly-inclined amongst us:
"If winning the Booker Prize is like being in a train crash, at this moment I am happily flying through the air."
And because my life plan is to sunbake and snort cocaine when I retire, I'm delighted to hear Mantel (who's 57) has quipped that she plans to spend her prize money on "sex, drugs and rock'n'roll".So I'm happy to announce that the delightful Ms Mantel is my new hero (or literary prize anti-hero hero), but this doesn't mean there isn't any room in my heart for the judging, ah, intelligentsia. "Our decision," the chair of the judging panel has explained, “was based on the sheer bigness of the book, the boldness of its narrative, its scene-setting, the gleam that there is in its detail."
Yes that's right, Mantel's book won because of its 'sheer bigness'. Tell that to Coetzee.