2016 Costa Book Award Shortlists Announced

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Costa logoThe 2016 Costa Book Award shortlists have been announced, and included in the novel category are Irish authors and former winners Sebastian Barry and Maggie O’Farrell. Also good to note the presence on the first novel shortlist of Kit de Waal and on the children's shortlist you will find Dublin-based author Brian Conaghan. Congrats to all four, indeed to all twenty shortlisted authors!

The shortlisted 20 authors, four in each of five categories, were selected from a total of 596 entries.  Of the 20 authors, 14 are women, and included are a former competitive ice skater (Susan Beale - first novel category), a hip-hop singer (Kate Tempest - poetry category) and a pop journalist (Sylvia Patterson - biography category). Indeed the poetry shortlist is all female, the first such occasion this has occurred,

Three of the four nominated authors in the novel category are former winners in that category - to the two Irish named authors you can add the name of Rose Tremain, who won the novel category way back in 1999 with' Music and Silence'. Interesting to note that the overall winner that year was our very own (twice winner) Seamus Heaney for his translation of the epic poem  'Beowulf'. Wicklow-based Dubliner Sebastian Barry won the novel category and the overall Costa Book of the Year award in 2008 for 'The Secret Scripture', while Edinburgh-based Derry woman Maggie O'Farrell won the novel category in 2010 with 'The Hand That First Held Mine'. This is O'Farrell's third nomination.

Completing the novel category shortlist is Sarah Perry with her second novel, 'The Essex Serpent'.

Given his recent sad passing, I feel it only right to mention at this point our great Irish novelist William Trevor, who was a three time winner of the Award; in 1976, in 1983 and again in 1994 for his novel Felicia's Journey. Lest there be any confusion, the Award was known as the Whitbread Book Award until 2006.

The first novel category sees the inclusion of 'My Name is Leo', the debut novel of Birmingham-born Kit de Waal, an Irish citizen whose mum hails from Wexford.

Dublin-based Scottish author Brian Conaghan is on the Costa children’s book award shortlist for 'The Bombs That Brought Us Together', along with Francesca Simon, author of the bestselling Horrid Henry series. Simon's 'The Monstrous Child' is her first novel for teens.

The winners will be announced on January 3rd next.  Category winners each receive £5,000, while the overall winner will receive £30,000. Since the introduction of the Book of the Year award in 1985, it has been won eleven times by a novel, five times by a first novel, six times by a biography, seven times by a collection of poetry and twice by a children’s book.  The 2015 Costa Book of the Year was the children's book 'The Lie Tree' by Frances Hardinge. Shortlisted last year were Irish authors Anne Enright and Sara Baume.

Sebastian BarryAbout Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

After signing up for the US army in the 1850s, aged barely seventeen, Thomas McNulty and his brother-in-arms, John Cole, go on to fight in the Indian wars and, ultimately, the Civil War. Having fled terrible hardships themselves, they find these days to be vivid and filled with wonder, despite the horrors they both witness and are complicit in. Their lives are further enriched and endangered when a young Indian girl crosses their path, and the possibility of lasting happiness emerges, if only they can survive. (Source: Award press release)


Maggie O'FarrellAbout This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell

Meet Daniel Sullivan, a man with a complicated life. A New Yorker living in the wilds of Ireland, he has children he never sees in California, a father he loathes in Brooklyn and a wife, Claudette, who is a reclusive ex-film star given to shooting at anyone who ventures up their driveway. He is also about to find out something about a woman he lost touch with twenty years ago, and this discovery will send him off-course, far away from wife and home. Will his love for Claudette be enough to bring him back? (Source: Award press release)


Kit De WaalAbout My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal

Leon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. They have gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo, and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices, and wearing Pretend faces. They are threatening to give Jake to strangers. Since Jake is white and Leon is not.   As Leon struggles to cope with his anger, certain things can still make him smile – like Curly Wurlys, riding his bike fast downhill, burying his hands deep in the soil, hanging out with Tufty (who reminds him of his dad) and stealing enough coins so that one day he can rescue Jake and his mum. (Source: Award press release)


Brian ConaghanAbout The Bombs That Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan

Charlie has always lived in Little Town.  It’s home: the curfew, the Regime, the thugs, the poverty.  He knows the rules.  Then he meets Pavel.  Scrawny, sweary, with fierce blue eyes, he is a refugee from Old Country – Little Town’s sworn enemy.  The wrongest person in the whole place to choose as a friend.  But when the bombs come, the rules of Little Town change.  Country or friend? Trust or betrayal? Future or past? Right or wrong: Charlie must choose. (Source: Award press release)

Read the Award Press Release.

This year the judging panels include writers Nicci Gerrard, Andrew O’Hagan, Mary Loudon, Matthew Dennison, poet author and blogger Jen Campbell and author-illustrator Cressida Cowell.

The shortlisted three stories for the Costa Short Story Award, now in its fifth year, will be revealed towards the end of November.

The Costa Book Award, first established in 1971, is open solely to authors who live in the UK and Ireland and whose books have been published in the past year.


The 2016 Shortlists (with catalogue links)

Sebastian Barry for Days Without End (Faber & Faber) (Days Without End - eBook)
Maggie O’Farrell for This Must Be the Place (Tinder Press)
Sarah Perry for The Essex Serpent (Serpent‘s Tail) (The Essex Serpent- eBook)
Rose Tremain for The Gustav Sonata (Chatto & Windus) (The Gustav Sonata - eBook/eAudiobook)

First novel
Susan Beale for The Good Guy (John Murray)
Kit de Waal for My Name is Leon (Viking)
Guinevere Glasfurd for The Words in My Hand (Two Roads)
Francis Spufford for Golden Hill (Faber & Faber)

Keggie Carew for Dadland: A Journey into Uncharted Territory (Chatto & Windus)
John Guy for Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years (Viking)
Hisham Matar for The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between (Viking)
Sylvia Patterson for I’m Not with the Band: A Writer’s Life Lost in Music (Sphere)

Melissa Lee-Houghton for Sunshine (Penned in the Margins)
Alice Oswald for Falling Awake (Jonathan Cape Poetry)
Denise Riley for Say Something Back (Picador)
Kate Tempest for Let Them Eat Chaos (Picador)

Children’s book
Brian Conaghan for The Bombs That Brought Us Together (Bloomsbury)
Patrice Lawrence for Orangeboy (Hodder Children‘s Books)
Francesca Simon for The Monstrous Child (Faber & Faber/Profile Books) (The Monstrous Child - eBook/eAudiobook)
Ross Welford for Time Travelling with a Hamster (HarperCollins Children‘s Books)

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