Costa Book Awards 2019 winners revealed

Jonathan Coe’s Middle England wins novel award as debut authors win three categories

Jonathan Coe: the judges called his 13th novel, Middle England, a scathingly comic portrayal of the social and family divisions that bedevil Brexit Britain, “the perfect novel for now”. Photograph: Getty Images

Jonathan Coe: the judges called his 13th novel, Middle England, a scathingly comic portrayal of the social and family divisions that bedevil Brexit Britain, “the perfect novel for now”. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Jonathan Coe has won the Costa Novel Award for his 13th novel, Middle England, a scathingly comic portrayal of the social and family divisions that bedevil Brexit Britain, which the judges called “the perfect novel for now”. One of the judges was Irish author John Boyne, who also reviewed it for The Irish Times. Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor was also shortlisted.

Sara Collins, a former lawyer, won the Costa First Novel Award for her debut, The Confessions of Frannie Langton, a Gothic romance about the twisted love affair between a Jamaican maid and her French mistress in 19th-century London which the judges called “the full package”. Sarah Gilmartin, reviewing in The Irish Times found it “an otherwise charming debut that doesn’t quite earn its length”.

Sara Collins worked as a lawyer for 17 years in the Cayman Islands before studying creative writing at Cambridge, where she won the Michael Holroyd Prize.
Sara Collins worked as a lawyer for 17 years in the Cayman Islands before studying creative writing at Cambridge, where she won the Michael Holroyd Prize.

Former war reporter Jack Fairweather won the Costa Biography Award for The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz, a landmark account of one of the greatest unsung heroes of the second World War, Polish underground operative Witold Pilecki, and his attempt to change the course of history.

Poet, lecturer and critic Mary Jean Chan has won the Costa Poetry Award with her debut collection, Flèche, exploring themes of multilingualism, queerness, psychoanalysis and cultural history that the judges called “a staggeringly beautiful mix of the personal and political”.

Debut children’s writer Jasbinder Bilan won the Costa Children’s Book Award with her first novel, Asha & the Spirit Bird, a thrilling adventure set in contemporary India, inspired by her special relationship with her grandmother and drawing on the rich heritage of her family history.

The five winning authors, each of whom will receive £5,000, were selected from 701 entries and their books are now eligible for the ultimate prize, the 2019 Costa Book of the Year, to be announced on January 28th.

The 2018 Costa Book of the Year was The Cut Out Girl by Prof Bart van Es of Oxford University. Like The Volunterer, its subject is the Holocaust.

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