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Costa Book of the Year Awards 2018


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Costa have recently announced the Winner of their Annual Book Awards.

There is a Shortlist of five categories: First Novel, Biography, Novel, Poetry and Children’s Book. The winner of Book of the Year comes from one of these five winners, and was announced at a ceremony in London on the 29th January 2019.

Image from the Waterstones website

Winner of the First Novel Award 2018 comes from well-travelled freelance journalist, Stuart Turton – The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. Having been shortlisted for and won several awards, and even been optioned for TV by House Productions, Turton’s debut novel was dubbed by the judges as “ingenious” and “intriguing”. Its innovative take on a murder-mystery plot follows protagonist Evelyn Hardcastle, who is continually murdered. It is up to Aidan Bishop to break the cycle and identify her killer, facing several adversities in his quest.

Winner of the Novel Award 2018 is Sally Rooney with Normal People, an electrifying ode to “modern life and love”, following Connell and Marianne in Ireland, who strike up an unexpected relationship. Born in 1991 in Dublin, Rooney is very well-accomplished, being the youngest-ever-winner of the Sunday Times ‘Young Writer of the Year’ Award.  Similarly to Turton, the novel was shortlisted for several awards and is currently being adapted for television by BBC.

The Poetry Award 2018 was awarded to J.O Morgan, who penned the “book-length” war-poem, Assurances. Located in the 1950s setting of the Cold War; a period of tension between America and the Soviet Union, uncertainty and friction, that came to head in the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction. A war-poem re-born with creativity, we hear from civilians aware of the situation and those who are not: we even hear from the internal voice of the bomb. Assurances is heavily influenced by Morgan’s emotional response to his Father, an RAF officer who was tasked with obtaining Britain’s ‘Airborne Nuclear Deterrent’. The poem is afflicted with even more poignancy, given its worrying yet undeniable parallels with the nuclear world-politics of today.

Winner of the Children’s Book Award 2018 category went to Hilarly McKay, with The Skylarks’ War. Given high praise by the judges, deemed “as perfect a novel as you could ever want to read”, the book follows Clarry, her brother Peter and cousin Rupert, who attend boarding school, as they are faced with an inevitable war that will soon be upon them. McKay is now a full-time writer and has, to date, published an impressive sixty books.

And, finally, the Winner of Biography Award 2018 and the overall winner of Costa Book of the Year 2018 is The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es. The harrowing book recalls the events of Lien’s childhood, after she was ‘collected at the door by a stranger and taken to a foster family’ to be hidden from the Nazis. Bart ven Es, grandson of the couple from Holland who looked after Lien, began an investigation dedicated to finding out what really happened. Embracing Lien’s story and the bigger picture, the book explores themes of the War, but also of a loving bond formed from foster families. A keen researcher, Barn won a Research Fellowship at Christ Church, University of Oxford, after gaining a First in an English Degree at the University of Cambridge, where, after publishing academic works on Spenser, is currently a Renaissance Literature Lecturer.

A noticeable running theme through many of the categories this year is War, which is particularly topical in society today, amidst the Refugee Crisis. Though many of the wars that are explored hail from a previous time, or even a war that is yet to exist, this can certainly spark introspective reflection, on both individual and societal scales.

All of the winning books can be purchased from the Costa Book Awards page on the Waterstones website, here.

Read Ruby Naldrett's review of Costa Novel Award winner 'Normal People' by Sally Rooney here.

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