Dublin-born novelist Paul Murray has been included in the 2010 Costa Novel Award shortlist, which has previously been won by Colm Toibin and Sebastian Barry.
Murray is shortlisted for his widely-praised second novel Skippy Dies, a tragi-comic book about life in a private boys' school. The novel, was also longlisted for this year's Man Booker Prize.
Also shortlisted for this year's award is The Hand That First Held Mine, the fifth novel from Co Derry-born author Maggie O'Farrell.
O'Farrell, who grew up in Wales and Scotland and now lives in London, is the author of four previous novels, After You'd Gone, My Lover's Lover, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and The Distance Between Us, which won a Somerset Maugham Award.
Other books included on the shortlist are Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty and The Blasphemer by Nigel Farndale.
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 2010 Costa Book Awards attracted 540 entries.
A reformed heroin addict’s first collection of poetry is among the books to be shortlisted for this year's awards.
Sam Willetts (48) came out of rehab in 2007 after losing six years of his life to addiction. He has now been shortlisted for the poetry section of the prize for New Light for the Old Dark against 80-year-old Roy Fisher, a veteran poet who is nominated for his latest collection Standard Midland, described as meditations on loss and ageing. Also included in the Costa Poetry Award shortlist are poets Jo Shapcott and Robin Roberston.
The 2010 Costa First Novel award shortlist includes books by Kishwar Desai, Nikesh Shukla, Aatish Taseer and Simon Thirsk. Sarah Bakewell, Michael Frayn and Edmund de Waal are all nominated for the Biography award while Lucy Chistopher, Sharon Dogar, Jonathan Stroud and Jason Wallace are shortlisted for the Children's Book award.
The winner in each prize category, which will be announced on January 5th 2001, receives £5,000 while the overall winner of the Book of the Year award, which will be announced on January 25th will take home a further £30,000.
Judges on this year’s panels included authors Adele Parks, Juliet Nicolson and Tim Bowler; poet Ruth Padel; biographer Caroline Moorehead and broadcasters and presenters Lorraine Kelly, Anneka Rice and Anita Rani, as well as literary critics and booksellers.
Since the introduction of the Book of the Year award in 1985, it has been won nine times by a novel, four times by a first novel, five times by a biography, six times by a collection of poetry and once by a children’s book.
The 2009 Costa Book of the Year was won by poet Christopher Reid for A Scattering while the award was won by Irish author Sebastian Barry for The Secret Scripture.