#Costawinner ‘The Shock of the Fall’

image-mediumDebut novelist and ex mental health nurse Nathan Filer, who now lectures in creative writing, has beaten Kate Atkinson to the overall Costa  prize with ‘The Shock of the Fall’.  He is the fifth debut novelist to win. The book was 11/2 only fourth favourite to win, a way behind Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life at 11/8.

He wins £30,000 for the prize, known as the Whitbread until 2005. Now in its 42nd year, it aims to reward enjoyability. The judges, who were reported to be ‘not quite unanimous,’ were chaired by Rose Tremain and included

Natascha McElhone, Pointless expert Richard Osman, singer Sharleen Spiteri, and authors and writers Gerard Woodward, Emma Kennedy, Anne de Courcy, Matthew Cain and John Burnside.

 The book is narrated by Bristol boy Matthew from the age of five to his early 20s and is a gripping account of his descent into schizophrenic illness following the death of his younger brother. It is told when he is at school, when he is smoking too much marijuana in a grotty flat and from the psychiatric wards he ends up in. ‘I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’ .

The Kitschies Red Tentacle science fiction award

image-medium (68)US author Thomas Pynchon has been nominated for Bleeding Edge in the science fiction prize the Kitschies.

The Kitschies’ Red Tentacle award is given for the year’s “most progressive, intelligent and entertaining” novel containing elements of the “speculative or fantastic”.

Pynchon is quite reclusive but the organisers are hoping a stuffed tentacle and a prize of £2000 plus a bottle of Kraken rum will lure him out for the award ceremony. Rivals for the award include poet Anne Carson and crossover novelist Patrick Ness – it is a very varied shortlist!

 A Tale for the Time Being, by Booker-shortlisted Ruth Ozeki makes the shortlist with an exploration on the nature of time. Carnegie medal-winning Patrick Ness is nominated for More Than This, which takes place in the afterlife of a teenager trapped in a deserted world. Then there is James Smythe’s The Machine, a dystopian novel where memories can be recorded by a machine.

 Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan for the Golden Tentacle for a debut novel.

Nick Harkaway won the Red Tentacle last year for Angelmaker.

Your favourite love story could win you a prize

The Book Depository, the online bookseller, is running a competition to find the public’s favourite love stories. All you have to do is post your details and your favourite love story — doesn’t matter whether it’s classic, traditional, sinister or even paranormal, any that have wowed you.

Three winners will receive a set of 10 timeless love stories from the Penguin Clothbound Classics series! Competition ends on Thursday 6 February. Good luck!