The British writer Hilary Mantel won the prestigious Booker literary prize for a second time on Tuesday with her blood-soaked Tudor saga Bring Up the Bodies, which the head of the judging panel said had "rewritten the book" on historical fiction.
Mantel, who took the £50,000 (Dh296,000) award in 2009 for Wolf Hall, is the first British author, and the first woman, to achieve a Booker double. "You wait 20 years for a Booker Prize, and two come along at once," Mantel said as she accepted the award at London's medieval Guildhall. "I regard this as an act of faith and a vote of confidence."
Bring Up the Bodies is the first sequel to win the prize. It and Wolf Hall are parts of a planned trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, the powerful chief minister to King Henry VIII.
Alternately thoughtful and thuggish, trying to keep his head in a treacherous world, Mantel's Cromwell has drawn comparisons to the Mafia don at the centre of The Godfather saga, and Mantel's novel combines finely wrought prose with thriller touches.
"This is a bloody story," said the newspaper editor Peter Stothard, who chaired the Booker judging panel. "But Hilary Mantel is a writer who thinks through the blood. She uses her art, her power of prose, to create moral ambiguity."
Stothard said Bring Up the Bodies showed "the greatest modern English prose writer reviving possibly one of the best-known pieces of English history".