Tóibín novel wins Costa fiction prize


Colm Tóibín’s critically acclaimed novel Brooklyn has won this year’s Costa prize for fiction.

The Wexford-born writer’s sixth novel, which centres on the experience of an Irish emigrant in 1950s New York, defeated a strong shortlist that included last year’s Booker winner, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.

The Costa Book Awards recognise the most enjoyable books by writers based in the UK and Ireland in five categories: novel, first novel, biography, poetry and children’s book.

This year's five successful authors, selected for 592 entries, now go forward to compete for the 2010 Costa Book of the Year prize, which will be announced on January 26th in London.

The winner in each category receives £5,000 (€5,500), while the overall winner receives a further £25,000.

Former scooter salesman Raphael Selbourne won the best first novel award for his book Beauty, beating Irish author Peter Murphy’s debut John the Revelator.

First-time biographer Graham Farmelo collected the Costa Biography Award for his book, The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius.

Poet Christopher Reid claimed the poetry award for his collection A Scattering, a tribute to his wife following her death in 2005.

Patrick Ness won the best children's book award for The Ask and the Answer - Book Two of his Chaos Walking trilogy.

The Arts Council congratulated Mr Tóibín, a council member, on winning his award.

Following the announcement, Pat Moylan, chairman of the Arts Council, said: “Brooklyn is a moving and skillfully crafted novel. Colm Tóibín pulls the reader into a world of submerged and unspoken emotion though brilliant and graceful command of language, voice and point of view.

"In this deceptively quiet and remarkably poignant novel, Colm’s prose is expertly composed and his characters adeptly drawn. A writer wholly committed to his art, it is a great pleasure to see Colm win this award."

Since the introduction of the overall 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, five times by a collection of poetry and once by a children's book.

Last year’s overall prize went to Irish author Sebastian Barry for his novel The Secret Scripture.

The awards were established in 1971 by Whitbread, but coffee-shop chain Costa took over the sponsorship of the prize in 2006.

"Our final judges will have a tough time selecting just one from these five for the title of Costa Book of the Year," said Costa managing director John Derkach, "but it makes for a very exciting awards ceremony later this month".