Sunday, 6 January 2008

Costa Books Awards

Catherine O'Flynn won the Costas for first novel with "What Was Lost" published by small press Tindal Street Press. I haven't read it but have heard good things. It is based around the endless corridors and CCTV world of a city shopping centre. The judges described it as "an extraordinary book". It is, they said: "A formidable novel blending humour and pathos in a cleverly constructed and absorbing mystery." So how come it was rejected by 14 agents?

  • A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam (John Murray) - set against the backdrop of the Bangladeshi civil war
  • Gifted by Nikita Lalwani (Viking)- gripping coming-of-age story dealing with cross-cultural issues in modern Britain
  • Mosquito by Roma Tearne (Harper Press) - A compelling story set in war torn Sri Lanka

Simon Sebag Montefiore won the biography category for his exhaustively researched biography of Young Stalin, tracing the early life of the dictator and his development into the monster he became. he became more than a little obsessed in his seven year quest to write this. He's now writing a book on Jerusalem, the place, not the hymn.

  • Rudolf Nureyev by Julie Kavanagh (Fig Tree)
  • Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre (Bloomsbury) - double - maybe triple - agent Eddie Chapman
  • Fatty Batter by Michael Simkins (Ebury Press) - cricket, in case you're wondering

AL Kennedy won the best novel category for her book Day about a second world war Lancaster tail-gunner, She is working now on a script for a screen version. Shortlisted were

  • Skin Lane by Neil Bartlett (Serpent's Tail)
  • Death of a Murderer by Rupert Thomson (Bloomsbury) - An exquisitely written ghost story
  • The Road Home by Rose Tremain (Chatto & Windus)- London seen through the eyes of her Eastern European migrant

Ann Kelley won the children's book award with her book The Bower Bird. This is about 12-year-old Gussie, awaiting news of a heart transplant operation. Kelley lost her son Nathan 20 years ago when he was just 24. He died a week after a heart and lung transplant. "Yes it was an emotional experience, but it was a bit like bringing him back to life, which was wonderful," she said.

  • Crusade by Elizabeth Laird (Macmillan Children's Books) - historical page turner
  • What I Was by Meg Rosoff (Puffin Books) - set in East Anglia
  • Blood Red Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick (Orion Children's Books) - set in Russia

Jean Sprackland won the poetry category for her third collection, Tilt, which has a strong environmental theme and addresses "a world in free fall". As usual, poetry is the category that sells the least. Buy more Poetry, readers. Poets are poor.

  • The Speed of Dark by Ian Duhig (Picador) - a reworking of Le Roman de Fauvel, a medieval satire
  • The Space of Joy by John Fuller (Chatto & Windus) - endless desire for love
  • Look We Have Coming to Dover! by Daljit Nagra (Faber and Faber) - explores the idealism and reality of a multicultural Britain

Each of the category winners receives £5,000. The overall Costas winner is announced next month. (P.S. Used to be the Whitbreads!)

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