Costa Book Awards

Recognising excellent, enjoyable books with wide appeal.

What are the Costa Book Awards?

Costa Book Awards logo

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.

Key dates for the 2020 awards
  • Close of entry: Tuesday 30th June 2020

  • Category Shortlists announced: Tuesday 24th November 2020

  • Category Winners announced: Monday 4th January 2021

  • Costa Book of the Year announced: Tuesday 26th January 2021

Costa Book Awards 2020

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 24th November.

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

Winner of the 2019 Biography Award and Costa Book of the Year

The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather (WH Allen)

The incredible story of Witold Pilecki – one of the greatest heroes of the Second World War – a Polish resistance fighter who volunteered to be imprisoned in Auschwitz where he forged an underground army, sabotaged facilities, assassinated Nazi officers, gathered evidence of the mass murder of the Jews and spread news of the Holocaust to the Allies.

Winner of the 2019 First Novel Award

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins (Viking)

1826, the Old Bailey: former slave, Frannie Langton, stands trial. The testimonies against her are many - seductress, murderer. This is Frannie’s testimony; beginning on a plantation in Jamaica and ending in a mansion in London where a woman waits to be freed. At the heart of it, this question: could Frannie have murdered the only person she ever loved?

Winner of the 2019 Novel Award

Middle England by Jonathan Coe (Viking)

The country is changing and, up and down the land, cracks are appearing - within families and between generations. In the Midlands, Benjamin Trotter tries to help his aged father navigate a Britain that seems to have forgotten he exists, while in London his friend Doug doesn't understand why his teenage daughter is eternally enraged. Meanwhile, newlyweds Sophie and Ian can find nothing to agree on except the fact that their marriage is on the rocks...

Winner of the 2019 Poetry Award

Flèche by Mary Jean Chan (Faber & Faber)

In Flèche, Mary Jean Chan evokes the difficulties of reconciling one’s need for safety alongside the desire to shed one’s protective armour in order to fully embrace the world. As themes of multilingualism, queerness, psychoanalysis and cultural history emerge, so too does a richly imagined personal, maternal and national biography. This is a collection that feels urgent and true, dazzling and devastating by turns.

Winner of the 2019 Children's Book Award

Asha & the Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan (Chicken House)

In an unforgettable adventure set in contemporary India, Asha is guided by a majestic bird which she believes to be the spirit of her grandmother. Together with her best friend, Jeevan, she embarks on a journey across the Himalayas to find her missing father and save her home…


Did you know that this is the only book prize to be won by Roald Dahl? He won the Children’s Novel Award in 1983 with ‘The Witches’!

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.

Check here for full terms and conditions for the Costa Book Awards and Costa Short Story Award.