Costa Book of the Year

Wednesday 29 January 2014 by

As if I haven’t already mentioned, the Costa book awards (all of them) always produce some top-class winners. And every year, out of the winners of each category prize, Costa hands out the top prize – the Costa Book of the Year.

Last night’s swanky soirée celebrated some of the best of 2013, with five books up for the prize. The winners of the Costa First Novel Award, Novel Award, Biography Award, Poetry Award, and Children’s Book Award, are all put forward to a panel of judges – who have the nigh on impossible job of choosing the best of the best.

The panel this year included chair Rose Tremain (CBE), John Burnside, Matthew Cain, Anne de Courcy, Emma Kennedy, Natascha McElhone, Richard Osman (yes, the one from Pointless), Sharleen Spiteri (yes, the one from Texas), and Gerard Woodward (Professor of Fiction at Bath Spa – which is my old stomping ground!)

But who won?


Life After Life Kate Atkinson The Shock of the Fall, Book, Nathan Filer

Costa First Novel Award winner

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer (HarperCollins) is a story of grief, loss and mental illness through the eyes of Matthew as he struggles to deal with his descent in to madness and confront his role in the death of his older brother ten years earlier.

Nathan Filer is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and has been a mental health nurse in Bristol. He is no stranger to winning awards (he has previously received accolades in poetry and filmmaking), but it is his first novel that is truly turning heads – including those of the panel of judges, who deemed him the winner of the Costa Book of the Year.

It’s been heralded by the judges as the obvious winner, despite not being the bookies’ favourite, and was the result of his MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa, subjected to an 11-way bidding war, and finally snapped up by HarperCollins for a six-figure sum.

Rose Tremain told the press: “For a first novel it is astonishingly sure-footed … I think there is genuine excitement about this winner.”


Life After Life, Book, Kate Atkinson

Costa Novel Award winner

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (Doubleday) has been one of the leading books of 2013. If you haven’t read it yet, I think you’re in the minority. Ursula Todd is unique – she gets to live over and over again, with an infinite number of chances at life. She lives through the biggest events of the last century, from a different perspective each time.

The Pike, Book, Lucy Hughes-Hallett

Costa Biography Award winner

The Pike: Gabriele D’Annunzio, Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War by Lucy Hughes-Hallett (Fourth Estate) is a fascinating biography of Gabriele D’Annunzio – the Italian artist and fascist who, in 1919, declared himself the Commandante of Fiume (a city in modern-day Croatia) in order to establish a utopian state. The story of this melodramatic and political loose cannon is mesmerising and borders the unbelievable.

Drysalter, Book, Poems, Michael Symmons Roberts

Costa Poetry Award winner

Drysalter (Jonathan Cape) is the sixth collection of poetry from Michael Symmons Roberts. Taking its name from the ancient trade in powders, chemicals, salts and dyes, paints and cures, the poems constrain themselves to 150 poems of 50 lines. From financial markets to deserts, these poems take you on a journey of the physical and metaphysical.

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse, Book, Children's, Chris Riddell

Costa Childrens Book Award winner

Meet Ada Goth. She lives with Lord Goth, servants and half a dozen ghosts in Ghastly-Gorm Hall, but doesn’t really have any friends. Until she meets a ghostly little mouse… Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse (Macmillan Children’s Books) is an adventure story from author and illustrator Chris Riddell, who is also a cartoonist for The Observer, The Literary Review and The New Statesman.

1 Comment

  1. Cathy Roberts

    I absolutely loved Life after Life by Kate Atkinson but heard Nathan Filer being interviewed on Radio 2 by Simon Mayo and he sounded so sweet and slightly overwhelmed by being awarded the prize, it completely endeared him to me and I promptly bought the book for my Kindle!

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