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'Wolf Hall' Author Hilary Mantel: 'The Drama's Got To Fit Around The Facts'

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'Wolf Hall' Author Hilary Mantel: 'The Drama's Got To Fit Around The Facts'

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'Wolf Hall' Author Hilary Mantel: 'The Drama's Got To Fit Around The Facts'

Novelist Hilary Mantel. Alastair Grant/AP hide caption

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Alastair Grant/AP

Novelist Hilary Mantel.

Alastair Grant/AP

The Tudors, as fans of the Showtime TV series know, are hot.

For another fictional — though arguably more historically accurate — account of that chapter in English history, there's writer Hilary Mantel's novel Wolf Hall. It won this year's Man Booker Prize for Fiction, Britain's top literary honor.

The New York Times called Wolf Hall an "arch, elegant, richly detailed biographical novel." The New York Review of Books said it is "a startling achievement, a brilliant historical novel focused on the rise to power of a figure exceedingly unlikely, on the face of things, to arouse any sympathy at all."

USA TODAY said that "fans of historical fiction — or great writing — should howl with delight that Hilary Mantel's deft, original but complicated novel" won the Booker.

Weekend Edition's Liane Hansen spoke with Mantel this week. They started by discussing why the author focused her book on Thomas Cromwell, an adviser to King Henry VIII. One reason, Mantel says, is that Cromwell was "heads and shoulders smarter than his contemporaries":

'Wolf Hall' Author Hilary Mantel: 'The Drama's Got To Fit Around The Facts'

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Later in the conversation, Liane asked how Mantel dealt with the issue of being historically accurate and compelling:

'Wolf Hall' Author Hilary Mantel: 'The Drama's Got To Fit Around The Facts'

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Much more from their conversation is due on Sunday morning's Weekend Edition. Click here to find an NPR station near you.

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If you want to get prepped for the interview with some background on Cromwell, check the BBC's biography of him.

And if you think you know your "wives of Henry VIII," here's a quick quiz: