Conversation: Hilary Mantel, Winner of the 2009 Booker Prize

BY Arts Desk  October 9, 2009 at 10:17 AM EST

Hilary Mantel took home the coveted Man Booker Prize this week for her novel, “Wolf Hall,” a detailed look at the contemptuous court of Henry VIII during the English Reformation. Mantel centers her tale on Thomas Cromwell, often a secondary figure in narratives from and about that period. In “Wolf Hall,” Cromwell emerges as a shrewd and calculating political aide who uses wit and reason to maneuver the halls of power.

Mantel mines the intricate details of history to tell this sweeping story. Familiar figures like Sir Thomas More and Anne Boleyn are portrayed in a new light, emphasizing their ruthlessness and self-serving ways. Mantel’s approach has been praised by critics for its nuance and compelling pacing.

I spoke to Hilary Mantel by phone from her home in London.