Established in 1971, The Costa Book Awards honours some of the most enjoyable books of the year created by authors based in the UK and Ireland. The 2019 shortlist has just been released, and includes 20 books across five categories that you're all but guaranteed to enjoy. Jonathan Coe’s Middle England kicks off the most contested prize, the Costa Novel Award, with a story about families in the Midlands trying to hold it together as the country changes. Sophie Hardach’s drama based in East Berlin, Confession with Blue Horses has also been nominated, while the magical Starling Days by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan has received a nomination for a tale of complex love and attraction that stretches a relationship to its limits. Completing the category is Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor. He explores the danger and complexity of unconventional love.
The Costa First Novel Award shortlist is always packed with some of the most successful books of the year from emerging authors. Candice Carty-Williams’ Queenie made waves in 2019 with her raw and vulnerable coming of age tale, so it's unsurprising that she made the cut. Sara Collins joins the list with The Confessions of Frannie Langton, a story about a trial, murder, and mystery. Diary of a Somebody by Brian Bilston, which shares the story of a man on a mission to change his life, is also nominated, along with The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen, which is a hopeful tale of lovers finding each other.
The Costa Biography Award shortlist includes truly remarkable books about incredible people. On Chapel Sands: My Mother and Other Missing Persons by Laura Cumming is a book of mystery, kidnap, and memoir. Jack Fairweather is also nominated for The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz, the incredible story of a Polish resistance fighter Witold Pilecki. The life of legendary war correspondent Marie Colvin is explored in Lindsey Hilsum’s In Extremis, while In The Making of Poetry Adam Nicolson unravels two literary greats, Coleridge and Wordsworth.
If you’re an avid poetry reader, or simply want to get into the art form, then the Costa Poetry Award shortlist is always a great place to start. Jay Bernard’s debut Surge really shines a light on an unacknowledged chapter in British history, while Flèche by Mary Jean Chan explores themes of multilingualism, queerness, psychoanalysis, and cultural history. Paul Farley takes the reader on an adventure in the natural world in The Mizzy. John McCullough’s weird and wonderful Reckless Paper Birds tackles issues of homophobia and homelessness as well as combining birdlife, Grindr, and My Little Pony.
The last category to be honoured in the Costa Book Awards is the Costa Children's Book Award. 2019’s shortlist includes magical adventure set in India, Asha and the Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan. Literary legend Malorie Blackman also makes the list with Crossfire, returning to her ground-breaking Noughts & Crosses series. A true quest set in the Roman Empire, In the Shadow of Heroes by Nicholas Bowling has also been shortlisted, while Jenny Downham's awesome exploration of where girls get their sense of self, Furious Thing, has also made the cut.
If you’re keen to know who wins in each category, winners will be announced on Jan. 6 2020. Once the winners of each category are established, one overall winner receives the title of Costa Book of the Year, which will be announced on a later date of Jan. 28 2020.