23 NOVEMBER 1991, Page 37

Hilary Mantel

The great book of 1991 has yet to be written; it would be a novelist's account of the fall of Margaret Thatcher. A tale so harrowing, instructive and dramatic is too good to be left to the political correspon- dents. Lack of inside information will be the problem; the Tory party has its authors, but none of them are up to the job.

Beside the year's real events, fiction Pales. I liked two of the Booker shortlist: (Intothy Mo's The Redundancy of Courage kehatto, £13.99), an ambitious political thriller set in a fictionalised East Timor — and Roddy Doyle's scurrilous and funny The 1/a0 (Seeker, £13.99). But no other novel has displayed the originality and power of Gordon Burn's Alma Cogan (Seeker, £13.99). This is my book of the year, because it is the one I desperately wish I had written.