28 Sept 2014


Well, well, well! Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill.

Call me cynical but given that they say there's no such thing as bad publicity (and after all with this comment she has been here before so to speak) I can't imagine award winning author Hilary Mantel is shedding any tears over the ho-ha caused by of her short story, The Assassination Of Margaret Thatcher: August 6th 1983, an extract of which was printed here in The Guardian on September 19th.

Perhaps best known for her historical fiction, the author's latest work, inspired by the day in 1983 when she spotted an unguarded Margaret Thatcher (described by Mantel as anti-feminist, a 'psychological transvestite') from the window of her Windsor flat and fantasised about killing herhas already proved controversial with one of the major English newspapers already having pulled out of a deal to be the first to publish the story and yet another calling for her to be investigated by the police.

'Sick and deranged', 'full of bile and hate', 'in need of a therapist'? Not knowing Hilary Mantel I couldn't possibly comment BUT as for her being 'somebody who admits they wanted to assassinate somebody' and therefore in need of investigation by the police? Surely not? 

Given that it came just days before Banned Book Week (September 21st - 27th) what strikes me most is that despite rumours that a certain British newspaper paid tens of thousands of pounds (something it vehemently denies) for the extract only to renegade on the deal amidst fears it would anger its readers, that there have been calls for the book to be banned.

What do you think? Should we worry about all authors with thoughts of assassination or just those with thoughts of assassinating an actual person (albeit if that individual is already dead)? And should any such books be banned?

For myself, to quote Salman Rushdie .....

'It is very, very easy not to be offended by a book. You just have to shut it'.


LL Cool Joe said...

I think there are many, many people in the UK who would have happily killed Margaret Thatcher, especially the miners and their families and my parents.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Tracy,

I don't think that I should really leave too much of a comment on this article, for fear of offending someone, or being shouted down and severely outnumbered.

Whilst MT was definitely a very devisive person and destroyed much of the basic facbric upon which this country was built, my hubbie was in the armed forces at the time of the Falklands War and therefore has a totally different perspective on the 'Iron Lady'.

Whichever camp your feet are in, and notwithstanding Salman's eminently calm and sensible quote, I am not sure that Hilary's book is an appropriate one for the shelves of any bookshop and should never come to the fore of any best selling, or awards list.

As for being banned ...? I rather think that boycotted would probably do the trick and maybe any future thoughts about the Royal family she should keep to herself!

I like a good controversial post to start the week, thanks for sharing.


Kelly said...

Since I'm a "Yank" (though on this side of the pond I don't like being called that since I'm from the south) I shouldn't offer my opinion of Margaret Thatcher - so I won't.

I don't believe in banning books. Rushdie's quote says it all. If you don't like it, don't read it.

As for investigating Mantel...why on earth say something like that publicly? In this day and age, threats, no matter how ridiculous they might seem, almost have to be taken seriously by the "powers that be" in order to cover their own tails.

brandileigh2003 said...

Heh, just actual people

Brian Joseph said...

Regardless for my feelings about a politician, if the book really ADVOCATES for the assassination of a person (even if already dead) that should be condemned.

With that said I am not at all sure that is what this book is doing.

I believe that Government banning of books is wrong unless the book specifically calls the commission of a serious crime. (Since Thatcher is not living I do not think that rule would apply here.)

Lindsay said...

First of all I love the new look and design on your blog Tracy, looks great! I really like that quote from Rushdie. I think that this is fiction and that many things are written about as fiction and expression which wouldn't be acted upon in real life.

Literary Feline said...

I am with Kelly in that I don't agree with banning books. I also agree with Lindsay in that the story is fiction and an expression of something that wouldn't necessarily be acted upon in real life.

Imagine all the mystery/thriller and horror novelists who would be under investigation if we took their books as intention. I imagine Mantel isn't the first author to comment about wanting to assassinate a real life public figure, historical or otherwise. To admit having fantasized about doing it in actuality, well, that's in very bad taste, especially as someone who is kind of famous herself. It's enough to give me pause!