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Man Booker Weekly Round-Up: Cromwell the musical and non-existent books

Man Booker Weekly Round-Up: Cromwell the musical and non-existent books

Better late than never. Beryl Bainbridge, the most celebrated multiple Man Booker nominee (five times and never a winner) and the only writer to have their own special MB prize – The Man Booker Best of Beryl – has finally made it into the Dictionary of National Biography. Bainbridge takes her place in this compendium of Britain's great and good alongside fellow newbies Norman Wisdom, Michael Foot and Bernard Matthews (of poultry fame). No one, though, could ever accuse her of having written a turkey.


The triumph of Hilary Mantel's MB winners Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies on stage as well as on the page has led to some has led to some recent speculation about Mantel the brand. The two books have earned some £11 million in Britain and have sold 650,000 copies in the US (not including ebooks). The theatre performances at Stratford have sold out. But, says Mantel's agent, Bill Hamilton, fear not – “We’re not going for merchandise. It’s not her style. What would we do: a nice range in Cromwell poisons? We want people to get the maximum enjoyment from the story as authentically adapted as possible.” So no mouse-mats, T-shirts or “Cromwell: the Musical” either then.


As if to prove the point, it has just been announced that Mantel's next book will be a series of 10 short stories all dealing with Margaret Thatcher. Her publisher, Nicholas Pearson, noted: “A new book from Hilary Mantel is a treat. Where her last two novels explore how modern England was forged, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher shows us the country we have become.” The book is due to be published in September but no word yet as to the status of the concluding volume of the Cromwell trilogy The Mirror and the Light.


Roddy Doyle, MB winner in 1993 with Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha is taking an interesting new career turn. He is writing the “autobiography” of the uncompromising Irish footballer Roy Keane. According to Doyle: “Ten years ago I was buying something in a shop in New York and I handed my credit card to the young African man behind the counter. He read ‘Bank of Ireland’ on the card, looked at me and said: ‘Ireland – Roy Keane.’ I’m delighted to be writing this book with Roy.” Keane famously walked out of the Irish national team during the World Cup because of disagreements with his manager, so Doyle will be hoping this writing merger is more harmonious.


Publisher's Weekly has had the clever idea of discussing books that don't actually exist but which crop up in novels; ie fictional works that themselves appear in works of fiction. Among those it singles out as (virtual) must-reads are “The Garden of Proserpina” by Randolph Henry Ash which kicks off events in A.S. Byatt's 1990 MB winning Possession and The Blind Assassin by Laura Chase, the “book” that gives its title to Margaret Atwood's 2000 MB winner.