Award Winning Fiction

Costa Book Awards 2016

    Keggie Carew
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    Winner of the Costa Biography Award 2016, Keggie Carew's Dadland is a story of war and grief, jealousy and madness and mischief and fierce love.

    A poignant exploration of what becomes of us as we grow old, it is full of Keggie's memories of her rather unorthodox but charming father. As her father Tom begins to lose his memory, Keggie tries to unravel his story but finds out so many surprising secrets.

    She learns that Tom Carew was a maverick, a left-handed stutterer and a law unto himself. He was also part of an elite SEO unit who was parachuted behind enemy lines to raise guerilla resistance in France, Burma and during the Second World War - and that was just the beginning...

    Dadland takes in elements of peace and war and then follows a painful path into dementia. It's a heartbreaking, powerful and perfectly poignant true story about an extraordinary man.
    Susan Beale
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    Susan Beale's debut novel The Good Guy has been shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and tells the story of a dreamer car-tyre salesman who lives in 1960s suburban New England.

    Ted craves admiration while his wife Abigail longs for a life of the mind and single girl Penny just wants to be loved. When a chance encounter brings Ted and Penny together, he begins to dream of a new life that revolves around her. However when this fantasy clashes with reality, Ted has to face up to the prospect of losing everything - and everyone - he holds dear.

    This is a compelling novel about love, marriage and the contrast between good intentions and self-deception.
    Rose Tremain
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    Shortlisted for the 2016 Costa Novel Award, Rose Tremain's The Gustav Sonata is a book that asks what the difference is between friendship and love. Or neutrality and commitment.

    Gustav Perle grows up in a small town in 'neutral' Switzerland, where the horrors of the Second World War seem a distant echo. But Gustav's father has mysteriously died, and his adored mother Emilie is strangely cold and indifferent to him.

    Gustav's childhood is spent in lonely isolation, his only toy a tin train with painted passengers staring blankly from the carriage windows. As time goes on, an intense friendship with a Jewish boy of his own age, Anton Zwiebel, begins to define Gustav's life. s upon the borders and beat upon the gate.
    Kate Tempest
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    Shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award 2016, popular artist Kate Tempest's long poem Let Them Eat Chaos, written for live performance and heard on the album release of the same name, is both a powerful sermon and a moving play for voices.

    Seven neighbours inhabit the same London street, but are all unknown to each other. The clock freezes in the small hours, and, one by one, we see directly into their lives: lives that are damaged, disenfranchised, lonely, broken, addicted, and all, apparently, without hope.

    Then a great storm breaks over London, and brings them out into the night to face each other - and their last chance to connect.

    Tempest argues that our alienation from one another has bred a terrible indifference to our own fate, but she counters this with a plea to challenge the forces of greed which have conspired to divide us, and mend the broken home of our own planet while we still have time.
  • AQPDX 10 years +
    Ross Welford
    10 years +
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    Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2016 and longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017, Ross Welford's Time Travelling with a Hamster is a truly original debut novel from an extraordinarily talented new voice in children's books.

    Laugh, cry and wonder at this race-against-time story of a boy who travels back to 1984 to prevent a go-kart accident, and save his father's life..."My dad died twice. Once when he was thirty nine and again four years later when he was twelve. The first time had nothing to do with me. The second time definitely did, but I would never even have been there if it hadn't been for his 'time machine'..."

    When Al Chaudhury discovers his late dad's time machine, he finds that going back to the 1980s requires daring and imagination. It also requires lies, theft, burglary, and setting his school on fire. And he has to make sure he doesn't lose his pet hamster, Alan Shearer...

    This title was shortlisted for 2016's Branford Boase Award.
    Sylvia Patterson
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    Shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award 2016, Sylvia Patterson's I'm Not with the Band: A Writer's Life Lost in Music is a three-decade survivor's tale.

    Sylvia explains her search for elusive human happiness through music, magazines, silly jokes, stupid shoes, useless blokes, hopeless homes, booze, drugs, love, loss, A&E, death, disillusion and hope - all while trying to make Prince laugh, cheer Eminem up and annoying Madonna.

    Harking back to the 1980s, this is a compelling and fascinating chronicle of the past 30 years in music history. Sylvia explains how she got into music journalism and some of the craziest moments of her career.
    Maggie O'Farrell
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    Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2016, Maggie O'Farrell's This Must Be the Place crosses time zones and continents to reveal an extraordinary portrait of a marriage.

    It follows Claudette Wells, a reclusive ex-film star living in the wilds of Ireland, as she reaches for her shotgun when a stranger approaches her home... but what has made her so fiercely protective of her family and why did she walk out on her hugely successful cinematic career?

    Meanwhile her husband Daniel is about to make an exit of his own. He's just discovered something about a woman he last saw 20 years ago and it threatens to destroy everything.
    Francesca Simon
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    Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2016, Francesca Simon's The Monstrous Child is an operatic and epic drama quite like any other book you've read.

    It focuses on Hel, an ordinary teenager who just so happens to be the goddess of the Underworld. She wonders why life is so unfair but is determined to make the best of it, creating gleaming halls in her dark kingdom and welcoming the dead who she is forced to host for eternity.

    Until eternity itself is threatened.

    Much loved for her children's books including Horrid Henry, Francesca Simon's first teen novel is exhilarating.

    This title has been shortlisted for 2017's YA Book Award.
    Melissa Lee-Houghton
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    Shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award 2016, Sunshine is the new collection from Next Generation Poet Melissa Lee-Houghton.

    A writer of startling confession, her poems inhabit the lonely hotel rooms, psych wards and deserted lanes of austerity Britain.

    Sunshine combines acute social observation with a dark, surreal humour born of first-hand experience. Abuse, addiction and mental health are all subject to Lee-Houghton's poetic eye.

    But these are also poems of extravagance, hope and desire, that stake new ground for the Romantic lyric in an age of social media and internet porn.
    Hisham Matar
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    Shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize and Costa Biography Award 2016, this is an extraordinary memoir of a son's search for his father and the return to a homeland he never thought he'd see again.

    Hisham Matar was nineteen when his father was kidnapped and taken to prison in Libya. He would never see him again. Twenty-two years later, after the fall of Gaddafi, Hisham was finally able to return to his homeland for the first time.

    In this heartbreaking, illuminating memoir he describes his return to a country and a family he thought he would never see again. The Return is at once a universal and an intensely personal tale of loss. It is an exquisite meditation on history, politics and art. It's the story of what it is to be human.
    Denise Riley
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    Shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award 2016, Say Something Back will allow readers to see just why the name of Denise Riley has been held in such high regard by her fellow poets for so long.

    This book reproduces A Part Song, a profoundly moving document of grieving and loss, and one of the most widely admired long poems of recent years.

    Elsewhere these poems become a space for contemplation of the natural world and of physical law, and for the deep consideration of what it is to invoke those who are absent. But finally, they extend our sense of what the act of human speech can mean - and especially what is drawn forth from us when we address our dead.

    Lyric, intimate, acidly witty, unflinchingly brave, Say Something Back is deeply moving and affecting.
    Sarah Perry
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    Shortlisted for the 2016 Costa Novel Award, Sarah Perry's The Essex Serpent is based in London in 1893. Cora Seaborne's controlling husband has died, and it's up to her to step into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness.

    Along with her son Francis - a curious, obsessive boy - she leaves town for Essex, in the hope that fresh air and open space will provide refuge.

    On arrival, rumours reach them that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming lives, has returned to the coastal parish of Aldwinter. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist with no patience for superstition, is enthralled and goes to investigate...
    Patrice Lawrence
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    Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2016, Patrice Lawrence's Orangeboy is all about a boy who has never been cool enough, clever enough or street enough to be noticed - until now...

    Marlon promised his mum he would never follow his big brother down the wrong path and so far it's been easy. But then a date ends in tragedy and Marlon ends up being hunted. They want the mysterious Mr. Orange, but they're determined to use Marlon to get to him.

    Marlon is left with no choice but to break his promise to his mother and become the person he never wanted to be to protect everyone he loves.

    This title has been shortlisted for 2017's YA Book Award.
    John Guy
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    Shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award 2016, John Guy's Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years looks at the later years of Elizabeth I's life, revealing her as an insecure and even unpopular woman.

    Although often held up as an icon of strength and power, history often focuses on the early years of her reign. In this biography, it looks at her life in 1583, the year she turned 50. Often told in her own words, it reveals the relentless plotting and some of her traits and interests (she loved cheese and marzipan) and is a great read for anyone interested in royal history.