Launched in 1971, the Costa Book Awards is one of the UK’s most prestigious and popular book prizes and celebrates the most enjoyable books of the year by writers resident in the UK and Ireland.
Uniquely, 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 and each category is judged separately by a panel of three judges per category. The Costa Book of the Year is then chosen by a nine-member panel which includes representatives from the original panels who are joined by other well-known people who love reading.
Books are entered by publishers and entry for the Awards closes at the end of June each year. The author of the Costa Book of the Year receives a cheque for £30,000, presented at an awards ceremony at the end of January.
Books of the Year have included ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ by Mark Haddon, ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’ by Kate Atkinson and ‘The Amber Spyglass’ by Philip Pullman.
For the year 2019, Mary Jean Chan’s Fleche has been shortlisted for the Costa poetry award category.
In Flèche, Mary Jean Chan evokes the difficulties of reconciling one’s need for safety alongside the desire to shed one’s protective armour in order to fully embrace the world. As themes of multilingualism, queerness, psychoanalysis and cultural history emerge, so too does a richly imagined personal, maternal and national biography. This is a collection that feels urgent and true, dazzling and devastating by turns.
Jack Fairweather’s The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz has been shortlisted for the Costa biography category.
The incredible story of Witold Pilecki – one of the greatest heroes of the Second World War – a Polish resistance fighter who volunteered to be imprisoned in Auschwitz where he forged an underground army, sabotaged facilities, assassinated Nazi officers, gathered evidence of the mass murder of the Jews and spread news of the Holocaust to the Allies.
Category winners will be announced on Monday 6th January and the Costa Book of the Year will be announced on Tuesday 28th January 2020.
Click here to read more on the Costa Book Awards website.