Costa Book Awards – category winners announced

The five 2018 Costa Category Award winners have just been announced.

Costa First Novel Award WinnerThe Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

9781408889510[1]“As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed. But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot. The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath.”

What the judges said: “This ingenious, intriguing and highly original mindbender of a murder mystery gripped us all. We were all stunned that this exciting and accomplished novel, planned and plotted perfectly, is a debut. Fresh, enticing and completely unputdownable.”

Costa Novel Award Winner – Normal People by Sally Rooney9780571334643[1]

“Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years. This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person’s life – a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us – blazingly – about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege.”

What the judges said: “A trailblazing novel about modern life and love that will electrify any reader”.

Costa Biography Award Winner – The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es

9780241284995[1]“The story of a man’s search for the astonishing truth about his family’s past. The last time Lien saw her parents was in the Hague when she was collected at the door by a stranger and taken to a city far away to be hidden from the Nazis. She was raised by her foster family as one of their own, but a falling out well after the war meant they were no longer in touch. What was her side of the story, Bart van Es – a grandson of the couple who looked after Lien – wondered? What really happened during the war, and after? So began an investigation that would consume and transform both Bart van Es’s life and Lien’s. Lien was now in her 80s and living in Amsterdam. Reluctantly, she agreed to meet him, and eventually they struck up a remarkable friendship.”

What the judges said: “The hidden gem of the year. Sensational and gripping, and shedding light on some of the most urgent issues of our time, this was our unanimous winner”.

Costa Poetry Award Winner – Assurances by J.O. Morgan 9781787330856[1]

“A war-poem both historic and frighteningly topical, ‘Assurances‘ begins in the 1950s during a period of vigilance and dread in the middle of the Cold War: the long stand-off between nuclear powers, where the only defence was the threat of mutually assured destruction. Using a mix of versed and unversed passages, Morgan places moments of calm reflection alongside the tensions inherent in guarding against such a permanent threat. A work of variations and possibilities, we hear the thoughts of those involved who are trying to understand and justify their roles. We examine the lives of civilians who are not aware of the impending danger, as well as those who are.”

What the judges said: “We were all gripped by this polyphonic book-length poem and dazzled by its originality and inventiveness”.

9781509894949[1]Costa Children’s Book Award Winner – The Skylark’s War by Hilary McKay

“Clarry and her older brother Peter live for their summers in Cornwall, staying with their grandparents and running free with their charismatic cousin, Rupert. But normal life resumes each September – boarding school for Peter and Rupert, and a boring life for Clarry at home with her absent father, as the shadow of a terrible war looms ever closer. When Rupert goes off to fight at the front, Clarry feels their skylark summers are finally slipping away from them. Can their family survive this fearful war?”

What the judges said: “As perfect a novel as you could ever want to read”.

The overall Costa book of the year will be announced on Tuesday 29 January 2019.

Reserve your copy on the library website www.wokingham.gov.uk/libraries/library-services/search-renew-and-reserve-items/, or visit your local library.

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Costa Book Awards Shortlist 2018

cba2018portrait[1].jpgThe Costa Book Awards is one of the UK’s most prestigious and popular literary prizes and recognises some of the most enjoyable books of the year, written by authors based in the UK and Ireland.

The prize has five categories – First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book, with one of the five winning books selected as the overall Costa Book of the Year.

The shortlisted books are detailed below…

Costa First Novel Award

9781787198036[1]Pieces of Me by Natalie Hart

“Emma did not go to war looking for love, but Adam is unlike any other. Under the secret shadow of trauma, Emma decides to leave Iraq and joins Adam to settle in Colorado. But isolation and fear find her, once again, when Adam is re-deployed.”

 

 

An Unremarkable Body by Elisa Lodato9781474606356[1]

“When Katharine is found dead at the foot of her stairs, it is the mystery of her life which consumes daughter, Laura. The medical examiner’s report, in which precious parts of Katharine’s body are weighed and categorised, motivates Laura to write her own version of events. To bear witness to the unbearable blank space between each itemised entry. What emerges is a picture of life lived in the shadows, as well as an attempt to discover how and why her mother died. To make sense of her own grief Laura must piece her mother’s body back together and in doing so, she is forced to confront a woman silenced by her own mother and wronged by her husband. A woman who felt shackled by motherhood and unable to love freely.”

9781408889510[1]The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

“As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed. But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot. The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath.”

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson9780857525512[1]

“Professor Kristian Larsen, an urbane man of facts, has lost his wife, along with his hopes and dreams for the future. He does not know that a query from a Mrs Tina Hopgood about a world-famous antiquity in his museum is about to alter the course of his life. Oceans apart, an unexpected correspondence flourishes as they discover shared passions: for history and nature; for useless objects left behind by loved ones; for the ancient and modern world, what is lost in time, what is gained and what has stayed the same. Through intimate stories of joy, anguish, and discovery, each one bares their soul to the other. But when Tina’s letters suddenly cease, Kristian is thrown into despair. Can this unlikely friendship survive?”

Costa Novel Award

9780241338070[1]The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

“When her city falls to the Greeks, Briseis’s old life is shattered. She is transformed from queen to captive, from free woman to slave, awarded to the god-like warrior Achilles as a prize of war. And she’s not alone. On the same day, and on many others in the course of a long and bitter war, innumerable women have been wrested from their homes and flung to the fighters. The Trojan War is known as a man’s story: a quarrel between men over a woman, stolen from her home and spirited across the sea. But what of the other women in this story, silenced by history? What words did they speak when alone with each other, in the laundry, at the loom, when laying out the dead?”

The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman9781786482570[1]

“In ‘The Italian Teacher‘, Tom Rachman displays a nuanced understanding of 20th-century art and its demons, vultures and chimeras. Moreover, in Pinch he achieves a portrait of exacting vulnerability and realism: talent made irrelevant by personality. Stripped of egotism, authenticity or genius, Pinch forces us to face the deep held fear of a life lived in vain.”

 

9780571334643[1]Normal People by Sally Rooney

“Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years. This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person’s life – a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us – blazingly – about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege.”

From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan9780857525345[1]

“Farouk’s country has been torn apart by war. Lampy’s heart has been laid waste by Chloe. John’s past torments him as he nears his end. The refugee. The dreamer. The penitent. From war-torn Syria to small-town Ireland, three men, scarred by all they have loved and lost, are searching for some version of home. Each is drawn towards a powerful reckoning, one that will bring them together in the most unexpected of ways.”

 

Costa Biography Award

9780571326211[1]To Throw Away Unopened by Viv Albertine

“Every memoir is a battle between reality and invention – but in her follow up to ‘Clothes, Music, Boys’, Viv Albertine has reinvented the genre with her unflinching honesty. ‘To Throw Away Unopened‘ is a fearless dissection of one woman’s obsession with the truth – the truth about family, power, and her identity as a rebel and outsider. It is a gaping wound of a book, both an exercise in blood-letting and psychological archaeology, excavating what lies beneath: the fear, the loneliness, the anger. It is a brutal expose of human dysfunctionality, the impossibility of true intimacy, and the damage wrought upon us by secrets and revelations, siblings and parents.”

The Cut Out Girl by Bart Van Es9780241284995[1]

“The story of a man’s search for the astonishing truth about his family’s past. The last time Lien saw her parents was in the Hague when she was collected at the door by a stranger and taken to a city far away to be hidden from the Nazis. She was raised by her foster family as one of their own, but a falling out well after the war meant they were no longer in touch. What was her side of the story, Bart van Es – a grandson of the couple who looked after Lien – wondered? What really happened during the war, and after? So began an investigation that would consume and transform both Bart van Es’s life and Lien’s. Lien was now in her 80s and living in Amsterdam. Reluctantly, she agreed to meet him, and eventually they struck up a remarkable friendship.”

9780241349649[1]The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

“In one devastating week, Raynor and her husband Moth lost their home of 20 years, just as a terminal diagnosis took away their future together. With nowhere else to go, they decided to walk the South West Coast Path: a 630-mile sea-swept trail from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall. This ancient, wind-battered landscape strips them of every comfort they had previously known. With very little money for food or shelter, Raynor and Moth carry everything on their backs and wild camp on beaches and clifftops. But slowly, with every step, every encounter, and every test along the way, the walk sets them on a remarkable journey. They don’t know how far they will travel, but – to their surprise – they find themselves on a path to freedom.”

The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah: The Autobiography by Benjamin9781471168925[1] Zephaniah

“Benjamin Zephaniah, who has travelled the world for his art and his humanitarianism, now tells the one story that encompasses it all: the story of his life. In the early 1980s when punks and Rastas were on the streets protesting about unemployment, homelessness and the National Front, Benjamin‘s poetry could be heard at demonstrations, outside police stations and on the dance floor. His mission was to take poetry everywhere, and to popularise it by reaching people who didn’t read books. His poetry was political, musical, radical and relevant. By the early 1990s, Benjamin had performed on every continent in the world and he hasn’t stopped performing and touring since. Nelson Mandela, after hearing Benjamin‘s tribute to him while he was in prison, requested an introduction to the poet that grew into a lifelong relationship, inspiring Benjamin‘s work with children in South Africa.”

Costa Poetry Award

9780571337651[1]Us by Zaffar Kunial

The debut collection of poems from Zaffar Kunial.

“Across the pages of “Us” he vocalises what it means to be a human being, planting your two feet upon the dizzying earth – and he does so delicately, urgently, intimately.”

Assurances by J.O. Morgan9781787330856[1]

“A war-poem both historic and frighteningly topical, ‘Assurances‘ begins in the 1950s during a period of vigilance and dread in the middle of the Cold War: the long stand-off between nuclear powers, where the only defence was the threat of mutually assured destruction. Using a mix of versed and unversed passages, Morgan places moments of calm reflection alongside the tensions inherent in guarding against such a permanent threat. A work of variations and possibilities, we hear the thoughts of those involved who are trying to understand and justify their roles. We examine the lives of civilians who are not aware of the impending danger, as well as those who are.”

9780571338917[1]Soho by Richard Scott

“In this intimate and vital debut, Richard Scott creates an uncompromising portrait of love and shame, drawing upon his experience of London’s gay communities. Examining how trauma becomes a part of the language we use, Scott takes us back to our roots: childhood incidents, the violence our scars betray, forgotten forebears and histories. The hungers of sexual encounters are underscored by the risks that threaten when we give ourselves to or accept another. But the poems celebrate joy and tenderness, too, as in a sequence re-imagining the love poetry of Verlaine. The collection crescendos to Scott’s tour de force, ‘Oh My Soho!’, where a night stroll under the street lamps of Soho Square becomes a search for true lineage, a reclamation of stolen ancestors, hope for healing, and, above all, the finding of our truest selves.”

Three Poems by Hannah Sullivan9780571337675[1]

“Hannah Sullivan’s debut collection is a revelation – three long poems of fresh ambition, intensity and substance. Though each poem stands apart, their inventive and looping encounters make for a compelling unity.”

 

 

Costa Children’s Book Award

9781444919554[1]The Colour of the Sun by David Almond

“One hot summer morning, Davie steps boldly out of his front door. The world he enters is very familiar – the little Tyneside town that has always been his home – but as the day passes, it becomes ever more dramatic and strange. A boy has been killed, and Davie thinks he might know who is responsible. As he turns away from the gossip and excitement and sets off roaming towards the sunlit summit at the top of the town, where the real and imaginary world begin to blur. This is a moving, funny, inspirational and magical novel from the bestselling author of ‘Skellig’.”

Bone Talk by Candy Gourlay9781788450171[1]

“Samkad lives deep in the Philippine jungle, and has never encountered anyone from outside his own tribe before. He’s about to become a man, and while he’s desperate to grow up, he’s worried that this will take him away from his best friend, Little Luki. However, Samkad’s world is about to change utterly. He discovers the brother he never knew he had. A brother who tells him of a people called ‘Americans’. A people who are bringing war and destruction, right to their home.”

9781474942386[1]Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen

“Sarah has played many roles. Dutiful daughter. Talented gymnast. Persecuted Jew. Lost orphan. But now she faces her most challenging role of all. Now she must become the very thing she hates. For the only way she can survive as a spy at a boarding school for the cream of Nazi society is to become a monster like them. A monster who can destroy them.”

 

The Skylarks’ War by Hilary McKay9781509894949[1]

“Clarry and her older brother Peter live for their summers in Cornwall, staying with their grandparents and running free with their charismatic cousin, Rupert. But normal life resumes each September – boarding school for Peter and Rupert, and a boring life for Clarry at home with her absent father, as the shadow of a terrible war looms ever closer. When Rupert goes off to fight at the front, Clarry feels their skylark summers are finally slipping away from them. Can their family survive this fearful war?”

Category winners will be announced on Monday 7th January 2019, with the Costa Book of the Year announced on Tuesday 29th January 2019.

Reserve your copy on the library website www.wokingham.gov.uk/libraries/library-services/search-renew-and-reserve-items/, or visit your local library.

 

2017 Costa Novel, Biography and Poetry shortlist awards

CBA logo 2013 copy

These are the titles nominated for the Novel shortlist.

Home Fire is the seventh novel by Kamila Shamsie, and is a contemporary re-working of Sophocles. The judges call it a “brave and important book that explores themes that feel both urgent and timeless”. Tin Man by Sarah Winman is about two boys and a girl caught up in a love triangle, described by the judges as “a tender and deeply moving exploration of love and grief written with deceptive simplicity”. Stef Penney’s third novel, Under a Pole Star, is set in the Arctic, where foul play and doomed love prevail. Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor is described by the Guardian as a chilling meditation on loss and time, and the judges say “an extraordinary novel – poetic, haunting and hypnotic”.

The Biography shortlist comprises these four titles.

In the Days of Rain by Rebecca Stott is a deeply personal family memoir of growing up in, and breaking away from, a fundamentalist Christian cult. Fragile Lives by Professor Stephen Westaby tells the stories of the lives he fought to save as a heart surgeon. Once Upon a Time in the East: a Story of Growing Up by Xialou Guo details her tale of moving from East to West, and is described by the judges as “an eye-opening and compelling account of one woman’s search for art, love and freedom”. A Bold and Dangerous Family: the Rossellis and the Fight Against Mussolini by Caroline Moorehead examines a remarkable family and their ultimate sacrfice.

These are the books on the Poetry shortlist.

Useful Verses is Richard Osmond’s debut collection of poems about the intersection of the natural and human worlds. On Balance by Sinead Morrissey revisits some of the great feats of human engineering to reveal the states of balance and imbalance that have shaped our history. Inside the Wave by Helen Dunmore focuses on the borderline between the living and the dead. The judges said “we were all stunned by these breathtaking poems”. Finally, Kayo Chingonyi’s debut Kumukanda is the name given to the rites a young boy from the Luvale tribe must pass through before he is considered a man. His poems explore this passage: between the two worlds, contemporary and ancestral, and between the living and the dead.

All these titles are available to borrow from Wokingham Borough Libraries. To reserve a copy visit the online catalogue http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/libraries

2017 Costa Children’s Book Award Shortlist

CBA logo 2013 copy

The shortlist for the 2017 Costa Children’s Book award are Moonrise by Sarah Crossan, Wed Wabbit by Lissa Evans, The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, and The Explorer by Katherine Rundell.

The Times says Sarah Crossan’s powerful story should appeal to anyone over 13 with a heart and a love of storytelling. It is about the impact of the death sentence in America on a convict and his family.

Wed Wabbit is described by The Guardian as a properly funny fantasy adventure, about two troubled children who stumble on a surreal land ruled by a toy rabbit.

The Island at the End of Everything is Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s second novel, which Waterstones calls a tale of deeply inspiring and selfless courage. Ami lives with her sick mother, on an island that is to become a colony for sufferers of leprosy.

The Costa judges say The Explorer is “a masterful, delicious read from start to finish”. It is an adventure story about four children fighting for survival in the Amazon.

All these titles are available to reserve from the online catalogue via http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/libraries

2017 Costa First Novel Award Shortlist

CBA logo 2013 copy

The Costa Book awards honour some of the most outstanding books of the year written by authors based in the UK and Ireland. There are five categories – First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s book. One of the five winners is named as Costa Book of the Year at an awards ceremony in London in January.

This year, the shortlist for First Novel comprises – The Clocks in This House all Tell Different Times by Xan Brooks, Montpelier Parade by Karl Geary, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, and The Haunting of Henry Twist by Rebecca F. John.

The Guardian describes The Clocks in This House All Tell Different Times as a twisted fairytale, set in the aftermath of the first world war.

Author Sebastian Barry calls Montpelier Parade “a delicate, crystalline, hugely impressive novel…”

The Costa judges said The Haunting of Henry Twist “grabs you from the very first chapter and draws you through its wonderful characters and unexpected twists”.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress, and translation rights have been sold to over 30 territories worldwide.

All these titles are stocked by Wokingham Borough Libraries, to reserve a copy go to the online catalogue via http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/libraries