Derry-born author wins Costa prize


Derry-born author Maggie O’Farrell has won the 2010 Costa novel award - her first major literary prize - for her fifth novel The Hand That First Held Mine.

O’Farrell, who grew up in Wales and Scotland and now lives in London, was due to hand in her manuscript just before the birth of her daughter Iris but has told how she delayed publication because she “couldn’t even remember the word for a teapot”.

Dublin-born novelist Paul Murray had been shortlisted for the award, which was previously won by Irish authors Colm Tóibín and Sebastian Barry.

A debut children’s writer who was turned down by 100 publishers followed in the footsteps of JK Rowling and Philip Pullman by scooping the best children's book.

Web designer Jason Wallace's book Out Of Shadows, set in newly-independent Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe, was described by the judging panel as an “extraordinary debut novel”.

“This compelling portrayal of a nation in crisis gripped us from start to finish and has stayed with us since,” they said.

Previous winners of the title include JK Rowling in 1999 for Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban and Pullman for The Amber Spyglass, which also went on to win Costa Book Of The Year in 2001.

Potter and ceramic artist Edmund de Waal has been tipped to win the Costa Book Of The Year award, after scooping the Biography Award for his acclaimed family memoir The Hare With Amber Eyes.

Originally published with modest sales expectations after being “turned down by absolutely everyone”, it has become a bestseller and even been described as the “book of the decade”.

Jo Shapcott wins the Poetry Award for her first new work in over a decade, Of Mutability, which was partly influenced by her experience of breast cancer.

Kishwar Desai takes the First Novel award for Witness The Night, which explores India’s hidden story of female infanticide.

The Costa Book Awards recognise the most enjoyable books in five categories – First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book — published inthe last year by writers based in Ireland and the UK.

The five category winners, who receive £5,000 each, were selected from 540 entries and will be pitted against each other for Book Of The Year, which will be announced on January 25th.

The judging panel is chaired by broadcaster Andrew Neil and includes David Morrissey, Elizabeth McGovern, Natasha Kaplinsky, Anneka Rice and Adele Parks.

The last winner of the Costa Book Of The Year was A Scattering by Christopher Reid.