Costa Book Awards

Introducing the 2020 Shortlists: 20 outstanding books to read, recommend and enjoy.

What are the Costa Book Awards?

Costa Book Awards 2020 shortlisted books

Launched in 1971, the Costa Book Awards is one of the UK's most prestigious and popular book prizes and celebrates the most enjoyable books of the year by writers resident in the UK and Ireland.

Uniquely, the prize has five categories – First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book – with one of the five winning books selected as the overall Costa Book of the year and each category is judged separately by a panel of three judges per category. The Costa Book of the Year is then chosen by a nine-member panel which includes representatives from the original panels who are joined by other well-known people who love reading.

Books are entered by publishers and entry for the Awards closes at the end of June each year. The author of the Costa Book of the Year receives a cheque for £30,000, presented at an awards ceremony at the end of January. See below for all the latest news and updates.

Key dates for the 2021 awards

  • Close of entry: Wednesday 30th June 2021

  • Category Shortlists announced: Tuesday 23rd November 2021

  • Category Winners announced: Monday 3rd January 2022

  • Costa Book of the Year announced: Late January/early February 2022

Costa Book Awards 2021:
Entries are now closed

Entry to this year’s Costa Book Awards is now closed. We’ll be revealing the 20 books shortlisted for this year’s Awards on Tuesday 23rd November.

Winner of the 2020 Costa Book of the Year and Costa Novel Award

The Mermaid of Black Conch: A Love Story by Monique Roffey (Peepal Tree)

April 1976: St Constance, a tiny Caribbean village on the island of Black Conch. David, a fisherman, sings to himself in his pirogue, waiting for a catch – and attracts a sea-dweller he doesn’t expect. Aycayia, a centuries old mermaid, is drawn to his singing. But her curiosity is her undoing when she is caught by American tourists… David rescues her and hides her away, where she slowly, painfully turns into a woman.

Winner of the 2020 First Novel Award

Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud (Faber)

Irrepressible Betty Ramdin, her shy son Solo and their marvellous lodger, Mr Chetan, form an unconventional household. Happy in their differences, they build a home together. Home: the place keeping these three safe from an increasingly dangerous world – until the night when a glass of rum, a heart to heart and a terrible truth explodes the family unit, driving them apart.

Winner of the 2020 Biography Award

The Louder I Will Sing by Lee Lawrence (Sphere)

On 28th September 1985, Lee Lawrence's mother Cherry Groce was wrongly shot by police during a raid on her home. The bullet shattered her spine and both their lives changed forever. The Louder I Will Sing is a memoir about growing up in modern Britain as a young Black man. It's a story both of people and politics, but also the positive power that hope, faith and love can bring in response.

Winner of the 2020 Poetry Award

The Historians by Eavan Boland (Carcanet)

Throughout her nearly sixty-year career, acclaimed poet Eavan Boland came to be known for her exquisite ability to weave myth, history and the life of an ordinary woman into mesmerising poetry. Her final volume, The Historians, is the culmination of her signature themes, exploring the ways in which the hidden, sometimes all-but-erased stories of women's lives can powerfully revise our sense of the past.

Winner of the 2020 Children's Book Award

Voyage of the Sparrowhawk by Natasha Farrant (Faber)

Voyage of the Sparrowhawk is an epic journey of police chases, storms at sea and unexpected puppies. Set in the aftermath of World War 1 it follows two orphans as they take their narrowboat across the Channel in search of lost loved ones and a place to call home.

Download a poster

Check the links below to download free posters of the 2020 awards shortlisted entries and winners for libraries, schools and booksellers!

  • Download a 2020 Costa Book Awards shortlist poster here.

  • Download a 2020 Category Winners poster here.

  • Download a Costa Book of The Year 2020 poster here.

Previous Costa Books of the Year winners have included

Bring Up The Bodies

by Hilary Mantel

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

by Mark Haddon

The Amber Spyglass

by Philip Pullman

Past shortlisted entries

Click the link below to view a list of all past Costa Book Awards shortlisted entries from 1995 to present.

Got a question?

We receive many enquiries about every aspect of the Costa Book Awards, so we've taken all the most frequently asked questions and answered them here.