LONDON, UK – Award-winning short story writer Ingrid Persaud scoops the Costa First Novel Award for her ‘outstanding’ debut novel set in Trinidad, Love After Love. Writer and memoirist Monique Roffey triumphs in the Costa Novel Award category, winning her first major UK literary prize for her seventh book, The Mermaid of Black Conch: A Love Story. Lee Lawrence, debut writer and son of Brixton gun victim Cherry Groce, wins the Costa Biography Award for his ‘revelatory’ memoir, The Louder I Will Sing: A story of racism, riots and redemption.
The late Eavan Boland, one of the foremost female voices in Irish literature, posthumously wins the Costa Poetry Award with her final collection, The Historians, described by the judges as having ‘some of the finest lines of poetry written this century.’
Writer and literary scout Natasha Farrant wins the Costa Children’s Book Award with her 12th book, Voyage of the Sparrowhawk – which the judges called ‘pure heavenly escapism.’
19.30hrs GMT, Monday 4th January 2020: Costa Coffee today announced the Costa Book Awards 2020 winners in the First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book categories.
The Costa Book Awards is the only major UK book prize open solely to authors resident in the UK and Ireland and which, uniquely, recognises some of the most enjoyable books across five categories – First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book – published in the last year.
Originally established in 1971 by Whitbread Plc, Costa announced its takeover of the sponsorship of the UK’s most prestigious book prize in 2006. 2020 marks the 49th year of the Book Awards.
The five winning authors – one of whose books will be named 2020 Costa Book of the Year on Tuesday 26th January – are:
- Writer, artist and academic, Ingrid Persaud, who wins the Costa First Novel Award for Love After Love, the judges said the story of Trinidadian Betty Ramdin written in Trinidadian prose, was ‘teeming with life’ and ‘full of unforgettable characters.’
- writer, Monique Roffey, who wins this year’s Costa Novel Award for her seventh book, The Mermaid of Black Conch: A Love Story; a dark love story between a fisherman and a mermaid torn from the sea based on a Neo-Taino legend which the judges called ‘a story of rare imagination’ and ‘a glorious myth’.
- Social entrepreneur Lee Lawrence takes the Costa Biography Award for his debut work, a memoir, The Louder I Will Sing: A story of racism, riots and redemption – described by Hip Hop Artist AKALA as ‘the story of arguably one of the most important, yet least known, events in modern British history’ and by the judges as ‘a terrific story.’
- pioneering Irish poet Eavan Boland posthumously wins the Costa Poetry Award – the third writer to do so – with her final collection, The Historians, described by the judges as ‘an extraordinary book.’
- bestselling children’s author Natasha Farrant, who wins the Costa Children’s Book Award for Voyage of the Sparrowhawk, which follows an epic voyage from England to France in the aftermath of WW1 and described by the judges as ‘a purely joyful read.’
The authors, each of whom will receive £5,000, were selected from 708 entries and their books are now eligible for the ultimate prize – the 2020 Costa Book of the Year.
Jill McDonald, CEO of Costa Coffee, said: “Five outstanding books and five very worthy Award winners – what a wonderful way to start the year. The Costa Book Awards are all about recognising great writing and a good read and we’re very proud to be announcing such a brilliant collection of books for readers to explore and enjoy.”
The winner will be selected by a panel of judges chaired by historian, author and broadcaster Professor Suzannah Lipscomb and comprising category judges Jill Dawson, Sadie Jones, Horatio Clare, Zaffar Kunial and Patrice Lawrence joined by actor and writer Stephen Mangan, television and radio presenter Angellica Bell and presenter and book vlogger Simon Savidge, and will be announced at a virtual awards ceremony hosted by presenter and broadcaster Penny Smith on Tuesday 26th January 2021.
Since the introduction of the Book of the Year award in 1985, it has been won twelve times by a novel, five times by a first novel, eight times by a biography, eight times by a collection of poetry and twice by a children’s book. The 2019 Costa Book of the Year was The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather.
The winner of the Costa Short Story Award, now in its ninth year, is voted for by the general public and will also be announced at the awards ceremony. Voting is open until Friday 8th January, until which time the identity of the three shortlisted authors remains anonymous.
For more information, go to www.costabookawards.com.