Last year's jury, which gave the prize to Julian Barnes for "The Sense of an Ending," was accused of dumbing down after the chair of the panel said finalists had been chosen for "readability."
This year's list was more adventurous. Only Mantel had been a finalist before, and Self is a relentlessly modernist experimenter, while Tan, Levy and Moore are all published by small independent publishers.
Mantel's book was the best-seller on the shortlist, and will now sell in even bigger numbers.
"Wolf Hall" and "Bring Up the Bodies" also are being adapted for television by the BBC, and a stage version is in the works. But Mantel said she was trying not to feel the pressure as she works on the final book in the trilogy, provisionally titled "The Mirror and the Light."
"It is not the Olympics," she said. "It is not a competition. You are only as good as your last paragraph - and I haven't even written one of those today.
"When I start writing again, I'll forget all this, because every day has got its new problems and every day you feel like a beginner. ... It's just you struggling with your subject matter and a blank screen."
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