LONDON - British writer Hilary Mantel has won the prestigious Booker literary prize for a second time with her blood-soaked Tudor saga

Bring Up the Bodies

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Mantel, who took the £50,000 ($82,000) award in 2009 for Wolf Hall, is the first British author, and the first woman, to achieve a Booker double, joining double winners Peter Carey of Australia and J.M. Coetzee of South Africa.

"You wait 20 years for a Booker Prize, and two come along at once," Mantel said as she accepted the award at London's medieval Guildhall on Tuesday night. "I regard this as an act of faith and a vote of confidence."

Bring Up the Bodies is the first sequel to win the prize. It and Wolf Hall are parts of a planned trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, the powerful and ambiguous chief minister to King Henry VIII.

Alternately thoughtful and thuggish, trying to keep his head in a treacherous world, Mantel's Cromwell has drawn comparisons to the Mafia don at the center of the Godfather saga, and Mantel's novel combines finely wrought prose with thriller touches.

"You can see as much Don Corleone in this book as D.H. Lawrence," said Times Literary Supplement editor Peter Stothard, who chaired the Booker judging panel.

"This is a bloody story," he said. "But Hilary Mantel is a writer who thinks through the blood. She uses her art, her power of prose, to create moral ambiguity."

Mantel beat five other short-listed books to take the prize: Umbrella, by Britain's Will Self; Narcopolis, a first novel by Indian poet Jeet Thayil; The Lighthouse, by Britain's Alison Moore; The Garden of Evening Mists, by Malaysia's Tan Twan Eng; and Swimming Home, by South Africa-born Deborah Levy, of Britain.

The Booker, established in 1969, usually brings a huge sales and publicity boost for the winner. The award, open to writers from Britain, Ireland, and the Commonwealth of former British colonies, is officially known as the Man Booker Prize after its sponsor, financial services firm Man Group P.L.C.