Hilary Mantel leads race for Booker Prize


LONDON — British writer Hilary Mantel was named one of six finalists for the prestigious Booker literary prize last week for “Bring up the Bodies,” a tale of politics and passion at the court of King Henry VIII.

The novel is a sequel to “Wolf Hall,” which won the $82,000 prize in 2009. The books follow the king’s right-hand man, Thomas Cromwell, as he tries to keep his influence, and his head, in treacherous Tudor power circles.

Bookmakers immediately made Mantel one of the favorites to win the prize. Betting firm William Hill ranked her behind “Umbrella,” a century-spanning stream of consciousness by Britain’s Will Self.

The prize, which brings a big boost in publicity and sales for the winner, is open to writers from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth of former British colonies.

The other finalists are “The Garden of Evening Mists” by Malaysia’s Tan Twan Eng; “Narcopolis” by India’s Jeet Thayil, “Swimming Home” by South Africa-born Deborah Levy; and Alison Moore’s “The Lighthouse.”

The winner will be announced Oct. 16.