Costa Book Award 2016

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Overall Winner

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

5star.jpg Literary Fiction

It's the mid nineteenth century and Thomas McNulty has left his home in Sligo, his family dead from famine, to make a new life in a new nation. He teams up with prairie fairy - a dancer in drag - John Cole and together they sign up for the US Army. Their journey will take them through the American Indian wars and eventually to the Civil War. Along the way, the two soldiers form a lasting bond with a young Sioux girl called Winona and their travels take them from Missouri to Wyoming and Tennessee. It's the story of perhaps the most violent birth of a nation in history but it's also a convention-defying love story. Full review...

Costa Novel Award

Winner

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

5star.jpg Literary Fiction

It's the mid nineteenth century and Thomas McNulty has left his home in Sligo, his family dead from famine, to make a new life in a new nation. He teams up with prairie fairy - a dancer in drag - John Cole and together they sign up for the US Army. Their journey will take them through the American Indian wars and eventually to the Civil War. Along the way, the two soldiers form a lasting bond with a young Sioux girl called Winona and their travels take them from Missouri to Wyoming and Tennessee. It's the story of perhaps the most violent birth of a nation in history but it's also a convention-defying love story. Full review...

Other Shortlisted Books

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell

4star.jpg Literary Fiction

Maggie O'Farrell's globe-trotting seventh novel opens in 2010 with Daniel Sullivan, an American linguistics professor. He lives with his wife Claudette, a French actress who retreated from the limelight, and their two children in a remote home in Donegal. It was 10 years ago that he first came here and met Claudette by chance when her van had a flat tire; he struck up a conversation with her son Ari and gave the boy tips for dealing with his stutter. Now, preparing to fly back to Brooklyn for his father's ninetieth birthday party, he's caught short by a long-lost voice he hears on the radio. It belongs to Nicola Janks, a former lover he last saw 24 years ago; when he learns that she died soon after they were together, he determines to figure out whether he played a role, even if he doesn't like what he finds. Full review...

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

4.5star.jpg Literary Fiction

I confess to a bias… when I came across a reference to Sarah Perry's latest novel; I wanted to read it for two reasons only. She is a local writer, and the book is set in a place not too far away, but that I have yet to explore and which fascinates me: the Blackwater estuary in Essex. That's a place of the kind of wide open skies and mud creeks that you will find up much of the Norfolk and Suffolk coast as well, and a landscape type that probably only appeals to a certain type of person. Full review...

The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain

5star.jpg Literary Fiction

Gustav Perle grew up in a small town in neutral Switzerland: the horrors of the Second World War seemed distant, but neutrality was maintained partly at the expense of those who would seek refuge in the country. Gustav's father died in mysterious circumstances and whilst Gustav adored his mother, Emilie, she was cold and indifferent to him. Until he met Anton Zwiebel he was a lonely child with just one toy, a tin train, but he and Anton met at kindergarten where it fell to Gustav to look after the nervous boy. Anton is Jewish and he's a talented pianist, but he lacks the confidence to perform in public. Throughout much of his life he relies on Gustav's support, but fails to appreciate just how important, how necessary it is to his wellbeing. Full review...


Costa First Novel Award

Winner

Golden Hill by Francis Spufford

4.5star.jpg Literary Fiction

One rainy November evening a charming, handsome stranger fresh from the boat arrived at a counting house on Golden Hill Street in New York, a small town on the tip of Manhattan Island. He had an unusual proposition concerning an order for £1000 (a huge amount in 1746) which he wished to cash. It was tempting, but could the young man be trusted? Mr Smith wouldn't explain the whys and wherefores of the transaction, or where he comes from or what he's planning to do with the money: it's almost as though he wants to be suspected. Should the New York merchants trust him - and risk their money? But if they refuse him they risk their credit. Full review...

Other Shortlisted Books

The Good Guy by Susan Beale

4star.jpg Literary Fiction

September 1964: an Indian summer in suburban Massachusetts. Ted McDougall is a twenty-three-year-old Goodyear tyre salesman who lives with his wife Abigail and ten-month-old daughter Mindy in the up-and-coming Elm Grove community. Both Ted and Abigail feel unappreciated in their roles. Ted knows his in-laws wanted him to become a lawyer and join Abigail's father's firm, but he's a good salesman and wishes they wouldn't look down on him for it. Meanwhile Abigail, an American history buff, can't master the domestic arts of cooking and cleaning, much as she tries, and longs to go back to school. Full review...

My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal

5star.jpg General Fiction

Everything that is precious to Leon gets taken away. His Action Man toys, his home, his mum, and his brother. The world seems utterly unfair, and so he sneaks 20p here, and 50p there, out of people's purses, whilst building up a rucksack full of all the things he's going to need when he finds his baby brother, and reunites his family. Through all his planning he still manages to find enjoyment in small things, like a Curly Wurly, or riding his bike, or planting seeds with his new friends on the allotments, but how will he cope when he finally faces the truth of his new life without his family. Full review...

The Words In My Hand by Guinevere Glasfurd

5star.jpg Historical Fiction

17th century life circumstances dictate that Helena Jans has to go into service and is employed by Mr Sergeant, an English bookseller living in Amsterdam. There's much excitement when Mr Sergeant welcomes his new lodger, philosopher and scientist, Rene Descartes. However the thrill becomes somewhat muted when Helena's employer realises what the stay entails. Helena on the other hand, is totally enthralled by their guest: an enthrallment that will totally change her life. Full review...


Costa Biography Award

Winner

Dadland: A Journey into Uncharted Territory by Keggie Carew

5star.jpg Biography

Keggie Carew is the second child of a most unorthodox father. On the one hand he's a left-handed stutterer with little to recommend him other than that he was a law unto himself and a complete maverick. But - born in 1919, the second world war found him being tested for SOE, Churchill's secret army, who were tasked with conducting espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe and later in South East Asia. Within a matter of months he would be parachuted into occupied France with the aim of supporting resistance groups ahead of the allied invasion of occupied France and carrying the rank of major - at the age of just 24. Later, in South East Asia he would be known as 'Lawrence of Burma' and worked with Aung San, the head of the Burma Defence Army (and father of Aung San Suu Kyi)and was at one stage plucked off the Irrawaddy by a flying boat, like James Bond. Full review...

Other Shortlisted Books

Elizabeth: the Forgotten Years by John Guy

The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land In Between by Hisham Matar

I'm Not with the Band: A Writer's Life Lost in Music by Sylvia Patterson

Poetry Award

Winner

Falling Awake by Alice Oswald

Other Shortlisted Books

Sunshine by Melissa Lee-Houghton

Say Something Back by Denise Riley

Let Them Eat Chaos by Kate Tempest

Children's Award

Winner

The Bombs That Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan

5star.jpg Teens

Charlie Law is fourteen. He has always lived in Little Town and he has seen its descent into a difficult place to be. There's no drinking. No littering. No complaining. No being out after dark. Medicine is hard to get, which is a problem when your mum, like Charlie's mum, has trouble breathing. But even breathing is less important than keeping out of the way of the Rascals, the Regime's enforcers. And Charlie is a sensible boy. He has the rules of Little Town down pat and he never, never breaks them. Full review...

Other Shortlisted Books

Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence

The Monstrous Child by Francesca Simon

4star.jpg Teens

Hel is the ultimate gloomy, angst-ridden teen. Her dad's hardly ever around, her mum is at best indifferent to her, and her brothers are evil little beasts. She lives in a land of sleet and noise and ice. But that's not the worst of it. She has been, since birth, half human and half corpse, with all the accompanying odours that produces, and - wait for it – there'll never be an end to her misery because she's eternal. And you feel hard done by because you have to take the occasional exam? Full review...

Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Meet Al Chaudhury. He lives, unknowingly, among a family of time travellers. His grandfather has such a brilliant memory he can use a mind palace to store anything and everything, and could tell you what happened on every day of his life, and take himself back with his thoughts. His father knows the starlight at night is years old, and is a snapshot of a sun that is remote both in time and space. But even harder to fathom is that Al's father is a real time traveller, and is going to speak from beyond the grave, and send Al on a true mission through time, one that will either save his life, or completely ruin all Al's forevers, for, er, for ever. Full review...