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Weekly Roundup: Hilary Mantel continues her reign, congratulations to Jeet Thayil and reactions to the MBI finalists

Weekly Roundup: Hilary Mantel continues her reign, congratulations to Jeet Thayil and reactions to the MBI finalists

Hilary Mantel has succeeded in a feat that even Thomas Cromwell, history's great fixer, might have found beyond him. In picking up the 2012 Costa Book of the Year Prize – and £30,000 – for Bring up the Bodies she becomes the first writer to win both the Man Booker and the Costa in the same year. According to the Costa chair Jenni Murray, Mantel “simply stood head and shoulders – more than head and shoulders – above the rest; she stood on stilts”. The Costa Prize (formerly the Whitbread) has been running for 41 years and for all that time its judges have seen fit to ignore the example of their Man Booker peers, in fact the two panels have traditionally been as distant as Henry VIII was from the Pope. It remains to be seen whether the healing of this schism is permanent.

Congratulations too to Jeet Thayil, shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker for Narcopolis, on winning the DSC South Asian Prize for Literature. Thayil beat 80 other contenders and became the first Indian writer to pick up the prize. The announcement was made at the Jaipur Literature Festival shortly after the list of contenders for the Man Booker International Prize was revealed.

Reactions to the MBI finalists have been coming in thick and fast. Many of them divide along national lines: there is nothing like a fellow-countryman/woman being shortlisted to bring about some patriotic fervour. While India has been especially vocal in acclaiming U.R. Ananthamurthy it is Russia that has shown that a certain Cold War approach lives on. With a nose for conspiracy theories Izvestia newspaper claims that “Vladimir Sorokin's chances of winning the Prize may be slightly increased by the fact that Elif Batuman, a specialist in Russian literature … is also on the jury.” A nice try but the other judges are also specialists in the literature of various different countries.

Meanwhile the Deccan Herald picks up on the fact that Sorokin and the Chinese writer Yan Lianke have had work banned in their own countries. Somewhat surprisingly, while there has been much comment about the geographical breadth of the list of finalists (nine different countries) hardly anyone has noted a very striking fact: there is no UK or Irish writer on the list.