Costa Book of the Year: The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es wins £30,000 prize

Normal People by Sally Rooney had been favourite to win £30,000 prize

Bart van Es who won the  Costa Book of the Year Award for The Cut Out Girl. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

Bart van Es who won the Costa Book of the Year Award for The Cut Out Girl. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

 

The Cut Out Girl, a powerful story about a young girl’s struggle to survive Nazi persecution, and a man’s attempt to unveil his family’s secrets, by Prof Bart van Es of Oxford University, has been named the 2018 Costa Book of the Year.

The Cut Out Girl is the extraordinary true story of a young Jewish girl in the Netherlands who hides from the Nazis in the homes of an underground network of foster families, one of them the author’s grandparents.

Lien de Jong survived the war only to find that her real parents had not. Much later, she fell out with her foster family, and Bart van Es – the grandson of Lien’s foster parents – knew he needed to find out why. His account of tracing Lien and telling her story is a searing exploration of two lives and two families.

Sally Rooney had been the bookies’ favourite for the £30,000 prize, having won the £5,000 Costa Novel of the Year earlier this month for her bestselling and critically aclaimed second novel, Normal People.

The other category winners from whom the winner was chosen were Stuart Turton for his first novel, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, the Scottish poet JO Morgan for Assurances and children’s writer Hilary McKay for The Skylarks’ War. BBC broadcaster Sophie Raworth chaired a judging panel that included RTÉ broadcaster Rick O’Shea.

Costa Book of the Year Award winning author Bart van Es with Lien de Jong, the subject of his book, The Cut Out Girl. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters
Costa Book of the Year Award winning author Bart van Es with Lien de Jong, the subject of his book, The Cut Out Girl. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

The Cut Out Girl, published by Fig Tree, is the seventh biography to take the overall prize since its introduction in 1985. The last biography to win was H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald in 2014.

This is the 47th year of the Costa Book Awards, originally established in 1971 by Whitbread. The 2017 Costa Book of the Year was Inside the Wave, the final collection of poetry by Helen Dunmore, published shortly before her death.

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