Win the Costa shortlist books

Natahn Filer won the overall Costa prize but here’s a chance to win all the shortlisted books. Foyles are offering a goody bag containing the Costa Prize Category winners. You need to know the 2012 prize winner (choice of The Luminaries – Elearnor Catton, The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes, Bring Up the Bodies – Hilary Mantel and submit your answer. Or borrow all the titles free from your library.

Closing Date: Wednesday, 5th February, 4pm.

Life after Life – Kate Atkinson

The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer

Drysalter – Michael Symmons Roberts

The Pike – Lucy Hallet-Hughes

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse – Chris Riddell

Costa Book Awards

image-medium (11)Kate Atkinson has won the prize for best novel at the Costa Book Awards 2013, one that she won nearly 20 years ago when her debut book bagged the prize with her eighth novel Life After Life . The prize used to be known as the Whitbread and Kate’s debut novel was Behind The Scenes At The Museum. She follows in the footsteps of William Boyd, who won the first novel award in 1981 and the novel award in 2006, and Jim Crace, who took best debut novel in 1986 and best novel in 1997. If she wins, she’ll join Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes who have won the overall prize twice.

The winners of each category receive £5,000 and the overall winner gets a further £30,000.

Life After Life is also up for the Waterstone’s Book of the Year award and the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction. It was also a controversial omission from the 2013 Man Booker Prize longlist.

The Costa received 617 entries this year for the five categories: first novel, novel, biography, poetry and children’s book. The other four finalists are

The Shock Of The Fall, by Nathan Filer – It took 10 years to write and was  inspired in part by his work with patients and tells the story of a teenager’s descent into madness as he confronts his role in the boyhood death of his older brother..

Drysalter by Michael Symmons Roberts. He has won the poetry award for the second time with this sixth collection.

 Goth Girl And The Ghost Of A Mouse by cartoonist, author and illustrator Chris Riddell has won the children’s book award

The Pike, an account of the life of poet Gabriele D’Annunzio by Lucy Hughes-Hallett. has won  biography award. It won Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction for the same work.

William Hill have Hughes-Hallett favourite to win book of the year at 2-1, followed by Atkinson at 5-2. If either win the overall prize, then women will have won all the recent major literary awards.

Costa Book Awards 2013 – Poetry shortlist


image-medium (50)Drysalter by Michael Symmons Roberts  Michael Symmons Roberts’s sixth – and most ambitious – collection to date takes its name from the ancient trade in powders, chemicals, salts and dyes, paints and cures. These poems offer a similarly potent and sensory multiplicity, unified through the formal constraint of 150 poems of 15 lines. Like the medieval psalters echoed in its title, this collection contains both the sacred and profane. Here are hymns of praise and lamentation, songs of wonder and despair, journeying effortlessly through physical and metaphysical landscapes, from financial markets and urban sprawl to deserts and dark nights of the soul. Michael Symmons Roberts has published five collections of poetry, including Corpus, which won the 2004 Whitbread Poetry Award. He has also published two novels, Patrick’s Alphabet and Breath, and a non-fiction book Edgelands (with Paul Farley). He is a frequent collaborator with the composer James MacMillan and as a radio writer and documentary film-maker has won Sony, Sandford St Martin and Clarion Awards. Judges: “He combines philosophical depth with a lightness of touch.”

Dante: The Divine Comedy by Clive James   The Divine Comedy is the precursor of modern literature, and this translation—decades in the making—gives the entire epic as a single, coherent and compulsively readable lyric poem. In his introductory essay, James says that the twin secrets of Dante are texture and impetus. All the packed detail must be there, but the thing must move. It should go from start to finish with an unflagging rhythm. In the original, the basic form is the terza rima, a measure hard to write in English without showing the strain of reaching once too often for a rhyme. In this translation, the basic form is the quatrain. The result, uncannily, is the same easy-seeming flow, a wonderful momentum that propels the reader along the pilgrim’s path from Hell to Heaven, from despair to revelation. Clive James was born in Sydney in 1939. He is the author of more than thirty books. As well as his collections of verse and his five volumes of autobiography, he has published collections of literary criticism, television criticism, travel writing and novels. He appeared regularly for both the BBC and ITV as a television presenter and performer during the 1980s and 1990s. In 1992 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia, in 2003 he was awarded the Philip Hodgins memorial medal for literature and he was honoured with a CBE in the Queen’s last New Year Honours list. Judges: “A towering achievement that will stand the test of time.”

Division Street by Helen Mort 
From the clash between striking miners and police to the delicate conflicts in personal relationships, Helen Mort’s stunning debut is marked by distance and division. Named for a street in Sheffield, this is a collection that cherishes specificity: the particularity of names; the reflections the world throws back at us; the precise moment of a realisation. Distinctive and assured, these poems show how, at the site of conflict, a moment of reconciliation can be born. Helen Mort was born in Sheffield in 1985, and grew up in nearby Chesterfield. Five-times-winner of the Foyle Young Poets Award, she received an Eric Gregory Award in 2007 and won the Manchester Young Writer Prize in 2008. In 2010, she was Poet-in-Residence at the Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere. She lives in Derbyshire. Judges: “Wonderful meeting of lyrical poetry, political engagement and a powerful sense of place.”

Hill of Doors by Robin Robertson 
Charged with strangeness and beauty, Hill of Doors is a haunted and haunting book, where each successive poem seems a shape conjured from the shadows, and where the uncanny is made physically present. The collection sees the return of some familiar members of the Robertson company – including Strindberg and the shape-shifter Dionysus. Four loose retellings of stories of the Greek god form pillars for the book, alongside four short Ovid versions. Threaded through these are a series of pieces about the poet’s childhood on the north-east coast, his fascination with the sea and the islands of Scotland. Robin Robertson is from the north-east coast of Scotland. His four previous collections have received a number of honours including the E M Forster Award and various Forward Prizes. His last collection, The Wrecking Light, was shortlisted for the 2010 Costa Poetry Award and the T S Eliot Prize. Judges: “Passionate and powerful interweaving of personal and mythic sustained across the form of a collection.”

From Penguins to why writers drink

image-medium (48)Why is it that some of the greatest works of literature have been produced by writers in the grip of alcoholism, an addiction that cost them personal happiness and caused harm to those who loved them? This is discussed in one of the non fiction nominees up for a Costa award.

Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence and Emperor Penguins by Gavin Francis 
Gavin Francis fulfilled a lifetime’s ambition when he spent fourteen months as the base-camp doctor at Halley, a profoundly isolated British research station on the Caird Coast of Antarctica. Antarctica offered a year of unparalleled silence and solitude, with a few distractions and very little human history, but also a rare opportunity to live among emperor penguins, the only species truly at home in the Arctic. Following the penguins throughout the year – from a summer of perpetual sunshine to months of winter darkness – Gavin Francis explores a world of great beauty conjured from the simplest of elements, the hardship of living at 50 degrees centigrade below zero and the unexpected comfort that the penguin community brings. Gavin Francis was born in 1975 and brought up in Fife, Scotland. After qualifying from medical school in Edinburgh he spent ten years travelling, visiting all seven continents. He has worked in Africa and India, made several trips to the Arctic, and crossed Eurasia and Australasia by motorcycle. His first book, True North, was published in 2008. He has lectured widely and his essays have appeared in the Guardian, Granta and The London Review of Books. He lives in Edinburgh.
Judges: “A mesmerising account told in crystalline prose, of fourteen months spent in the silent vastness
of the last unknown continent.”

Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz by Thomas Harding 
Hanns Alexander was the son of a prosperous German family who fled Berlin for London in the 1930s. Rudolf Höss was a farmer and soldier who rose through the ranks of the SS to become the Kommandant of Auschwitz Concentration Camp, where he oversaw the
deaths of over a million men, women and children. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the first British War Crimes Investigation Team is assembled to hunt down the senior Nazi officials responsible for the greatest atrocities the world has ever seen. Lieutenant Hanns Alexander is one of the lead investigators, Rudolf Höss his most elusive target. Thomas Harding is a journalist who has written for the Sunday Times, Financial Times and the Guardian, among other publications. He co-founded a television station in Oxford, England, and for many years was an award-winning publisher of a newspaper in West Virginia. He lives in Hampshire, England. Judges: “A beautifully-balanced double biography, admirably measured but also gripping in its telling, which offers a fresh perspective on a much-examined subject.”

The Pike: Gabriele D’Annunzio, Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War by Lucy Hughes-Hallett 
In September 1919 Gabriele D’Annunzio, successful poet, dramatist and occasional politician with an innate flair for the melodramatic, declared himself the Commandante of the city of Fiume in modern day Croatia. He intended to establish the utopian modern state upon his muddled fascist and artistic ideals and create a social paradigm for the rest of the world. It was a fittingly dramatic pinnacle to a career that had been essentially theatrical. Lucy Hughes-Hallett is the author of Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams and Distortions which was published in 1990 to wide acclaim, and Heroes: Saviours, Traitors and Supermen, published in 2004, which garnered similar praise. Cleopatra won the Fawcett Prize and the Emily Toth Award. Lucy Hughes-Hallett reviews for the Sunday Times. She lives in London.
Judges: “A classic, meticulously researched biography, told with a twist, and riveting in its historical sweep.”

The Trip to Echo Spring: Why Writers Drink by Olivia Laing 
Why is it that some of the greatest works of literature have been produced by writers in the grip of alcoholism, an addiction that cost them personal happiness and caused harm to those who loved them? In The Trip to Echo Spring, Olivia Laing takes a journey
across America to examine the link between creativity and alcohol through the work and lives of six extraordinary writers – F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, John Berryman, John Cheever and Raymond Carver, all of whom were alcoholics. It is also a personal journey for Olivia, wanting to make sense of alcoholism – a disease that had affected her own family. Olivia Laing’s first book, To the River, was a book of the year in the Evening Standard, Independent and Financial Times and was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and the Dolman Travel Book of the Year. Olivia is the former Deputy Books Editor of the Observer and writes for a variety of publications, including the Observer, New Statesman, Guardian and Times Literary Supplement. She’s a 2011 MacDowell Fellow, and has received awards from the Arts Council, The Society of Authors and the Authors’ Foundation.
Judges: “An enthralling meld of memoir, travelogue, literary biography and personal journey, which sends you eagerly back to the work of six troubled but brilliant US writers.”

The Costa Novels. Have you read them?

image-medium (54)Shortlist for the 2013 Costa Novel Award. And the Judges are!  Clemency Burton-Hill Broadcaster and Author, Eithne Farry Reviewer, Critic and Author; Books Editor, Marie Claire , Gerard Woodward Author and Professor of Fiction at Bath Spa University

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson  – This novel’s been rated 48 times by Leeds Libraries readers and gets a 4 star rating
During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath. During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale. What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact, an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to? Kate Atkinson won the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year prize with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, and has been a critically-acclaimed international author ever since. Her four most recent bestsellers featured the former detective Jackson Brodie: Case Histories, One Good Turn, When Will There Be Good News? and Started Early, Took My Dog. She was appointed MBE in the 2001 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Judges: “Daring, inventive, this is a feat of breathtaking imagination.”

Unexpected Lessons in Love by Bernardine Bishop  Rated 5 star by one reader 
After a chance meeting in a doctor’s waiting-room, Cecilia Banks and Helen Gatehouse have become firm friends with a shared interest: both have been diagnosed with cancer. Whilst the two women contemplate their own mortality, they’re also facing different challenges; Cecilia’s war correspondent son Ian has unexpectedly fathered a child, Cephas, and calls on his mother to care for the baby, whilst a letter from an old acquaintance reminds Helen of a past that can no longer be ignored. As events unfold and the truth is revealed, Cecilia and Helen are united by their experiences not only of illness but of love, honesty and motherhood. The great-granddaughter of the poet Alice Meynell, Bernardine Bishop was the youngest witness in the Lady Chatterley trial in 1960. After writing two early novels, she taught in a London comprehensive school for ten years and then went on to have a distinguished career as a psychotherapist, during which she brought up her two sons. Cancer forced her retirement in 2010 and she returned to her first love, fiction, completing unexpected Lessons in Love and two further novels, Hidden Knowledge and The Street, before her death in July, 2013. Bernardine’s last two novels will be published posthumously. Judges: “An unflinching, darkly funny story of love, obsession and illness that is unexpected in every way.”

Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell  It’s July 1976. In London, it hasn’t rained for months, gardens are filled with aphids, water comes from a standpipe, and Robert Riordan tells his wife Gretta that he’s going round the corner to buy a newspaper. He doesn’t come back. The search for Robert brings Gretta’s children – two estranged sisters and a brother on the brink of divorce – back home, each with different ideas as to where their father might have gone. None of them suspects that their mother might have an explanation that even now she cannot share. Maggie O`Farrell is the author of five previous novels: After You’d Gone; My Lover’s Lover; The Distance Between Us, which won a Somerset Maugham Award; The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox; and The Hand That First Held Mine, which won the 2010 Costa Novel Award. She lives in Edinburgh. Judges: “Once again, O’Farrell has created characters you fall in love with in a story that is a delicious and unputdownable read.”

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld  Another one that gets a 5 star!
Jake Whyte is the sole resident of an old farmhouse on an unnamed British island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. It’s just her, her untamed companion, Dog, and a flock of sheep. Which is how she wanted it to be. But something is coming for the sheep – every few nights it picks one off, leaves it in rags. It could be anything. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumours of an obscure, formidable beast. And there is Jake’s unknown past, perhaps breaking into the present, a story hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, in a landscape of different colour and sound, a story held in the scars that stripe her back. Evie Wyld is the author of one previous novel, After the Fire, A Still Small Voice, which was shortlisted for the Impac Prize, the Orange Award for New Writers and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and awarded the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. In 2011, she was named by the BBC as one of the twelve best new British novelists and in 2013, she was named as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists. She lives in Peckham, London, where she runs the Review Bookshop. Judges: “Tough, compelling, surprising and beautifully written – this book packs a real punch.”

First novels to savour – Costa award shortlist

image-medium (47)It’s lovely to have some new authors to try so here’s the Costa Awards shortlist for new novels featuring titles that are all in stock @leedslibraries. Anyone fancy posting a review?

Idiopathy by Sam Byers  Katherine has given up trying to be happy. Thirty, stuck in a job and a town she hates, her mounting cynicism and vicious wit repel the people she wants to attract, and attract the people she knows she should repel. Her ex Daniel, meanwhile, isn’t sure that he loves his new girlfriend Angelica. But somehow not telling her he loves her has become synonymous with telling her that he doesn’t love her, meaning that he has to tell her he loves her just to maintain the status quo. When their former friend Nathan returns from a stint in a psychiatric ward – to find that his mother has transformed herself into bestselling author and Twitter superstar ‘MotherCourage’ – Katherine, Daniel and Nathan decide to meet to heal old wounds and reaffirm their friendship. But will a reunion end well? Almost certainly not. 

Sam Byers was born in 1979. He is a graduate of the MA in Creative Writing in the University of East Anglia. He has published fiction in Granta, Tank and Blank Pages and regularly reviews books for the TLS. Judges: “A hilarious and breathtakingly well-written satire from a major new talent.”

Meeting the English by Kate Clanchy  In 1989, the year of news, as London bakes through the hottest summer anyone can remember, one family is embroiled in its own private cataclysm. Phillip Prys has been silenced by a sudden, massive stroke. As his girlish third wife, Shirin, pads through their faded rooms, dignified in the face of bustling Myfanwy, back to manage her former husband’s care, their adolescent children, Jake and Celia, seek refuge in drugs and food. Enter Struan. Built like a heron, fresh from Scotland, he is thrust – quite literally – into the bosom of the family, as Phillip’s seventeen-year-old nurse. He’s had experience of death, but not of London. Hampstead is a foreign country, with foreign food and foreign customs. But he finds that it also has a strange kind of magic. Under the influence of each Prys in

turn, his life begins to alter in ways he could never have imagined. And so, in the meantime, do theirs . . . Kate Clanchy was born and grew up in Scotland but now lives in England. She is a popular poet: her collections, Slattern, Samark and Newborn have brought her many literary awards and an unusually wide audience. She is the author of the much acclaimed Antigona and Me, and was the 2009 winner of the BBC Short Story Award. She has also written extensively for Radio 4 and reviews and writes comment for the
Guardian. Judges: “A gorgeous slice of a 1980s summer, stuffed with unconventional characters who stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.”

The shock of the fall by Nathan Filer  The Shock of the Fall tells the story of Matthew and Simon, two brothers who are separated yet united by a tragic accident. Exploring themes of loss, grief and mental illness, this extraordinary novel transports the reader directly into the mind of Matthew and his slow descent into madness as he confronts his role in the boyhood death of his older brother ten years ago. Nathan Filer is a registered mental health nurse. He is also a performance poet, contributing regularly to literary events across the UK, including Latitude, Port Eliot and the Cheltenham Literature Festival. His work has been broadcast on television and radio including BBC 3, BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 5 Live. His 2005 poetry short film Oedipus won the BBC Best New Filmmaker Award and numerous other accolades, including Berlin’s Zebra Poetry Film Award and the Audience Choice at Toronto’s World of Comedy Film Festival.  Judges: “An exhilarating journey into the human mind that will leave you uplifted and transformed.”

Marrigae Material by Sathnam Sanghera    To Arjan Banga, returning to the Black Country after the unexpected death of his father, his family’s corner shop represents everything he has tried to leave behind – a lethargic pace of life, insular rituals and ways of thinking. But when his mother insists on keeping the shop open, he finds himself being dragged back from London, forced into big decisions about his imminent marriage and uncovering the history of his broken family – the elopement and mixed-race marriage of his aunt Surinder, and the betrayals and loyalties, loves and regrets that have played out in the shop over more than fifty years. Sathnam Sanghera was born in 1976. He is an award-winning writer for The Times. His first book, The Boy with the Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton, was shortlisted for the 2008 Costa Biography Award and the 2009 PEN/Ackerley Prize and named 2009 Mind Book of the Year. Marriage Material has been picked by Waterstones as one of the fiction debuts of the year.  Judges: “Fresh, funny and thought-provoking – an epic tale of family life with characters that bounce off the page.”

Costa Book Awards Category Winners Announced

logo_book_awardsThis year has proved to be good year for women writers in the Costas as women have written all five of the category winning books. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel is again proving extremely popular and picks up the award for Novel of the Year after winning the Man Booker Prize in 2012. The Biography of the Year was Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes by Mary Talbot, a graphic novel illustrated by her husband. The first novel award was The Innocents by Francesca Segal.

The Poetry Book of the year category was won by Kathleen Jamie for The Overhaul and the Children’s book category was won by Sally Gardner for her brilliant novel, Maggot Moon.

The overall winner will be announced on the 29th January and Hilary Mantel is the favourite to walk away with the prize. Last year’s winner was Pure by Andrew Miller.

All the books are available in our libraries. You can reserve a copy online and pick up from your nearest branch or mobile.