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Nov 18

And the shortlists for the Costa Book Award – Best Novel and Best First Novel – have been announced…

… and there’s at least one surprise.  Here are the nominees:

Best Novel

  • Kate Atkinson: A God in Ruins (Doubleday)
  • Anne Enright: The Green Road (Jonathan Cape)
  • Patrick Gale: A Place Called Winter (Tinder Press)
  • Melissa Harrison: At Hawthorn Time (Bloomsbury)

Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life was nominated for the Costa Book Award in 2013, so it’s not entirely surprising to see the sequel shortlisted for 2015.  I liked, but didn’t love Life After Life, but I know this is a very different novel and Atkinson is a wonderful writer so I’m looking forward to reading it.  But the book on this list that really stands out, based on the praise it’s received, is Anne Enright’s The Green Road.  It was long-listed for this year’s Man Booker and there was an expectation it would be short-listed a month later.  Still, here it is and I’m intrigued to see what all the fuss has been about.

I know very little about the other two nominees, but that’s no bad thing.  I knew nothing about Marlon James novel either – when it was nominated earlier this heat – no we all know how that turned out.

Best First Novel

  • Sara Baume: Spill Simmer Falter Wither (Windmill Books)
  • Kate Hamer: The Girl in the Red Coat (Faber)
  • Andrew Michael Hurley: The Loney (John Murray)
  • Tasha Kavanagh: Things We Have in Common (Canongate)

The big surprise for me is seeing The Loney on the first novel shortlist.  Not because I didn’t like it, on the contrary I think it’s a marvellous book that deserved far more genre attention than it received.  I just didn’t expect that the novel, originally published by Tartarus Press, would get any recognition by a mainstream award.  Having said that The Loney has clearly found a second life with publishers John Murray (an off shoot of Hodder & Stoughton) and I’m delighted to see it feature here.  In fact it’s going to take a damn good effort from the other three nominees to knock my love of Andrew Michael Hurley’s book off its pedestal.

And finally, it’s fantastic to see that of the 8 novelists, 6 are women.  I know I shouldn’t have to note this everytime I announce a shortlist, but just take the Goldsmith Prize as an example of how far we have to go in terms of gender and cultural diversity in awards lists.  Anywho, I won’t get to these books until later in the month, so I’m hoping there will be reviews in December.

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