Costa Book Awards

Recognising excellent, enjoyable books with wide appeal.

What are the Costa Book Awards?

Costa Book Awards logoLaunched 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.

Books of the Year have included ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ by Mark Haddon, ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’ by Kate Atkinson and ‘The Amber Spyglass’ by Philip Pullman.

Click here to view a list of all past winners and check below for all the latest news and updates.

Key dates for the 2019 Awards

Close of Entry

Wednesday 26th June 2019

Category Shortlists Announced

Tuesday 26th November 2019

Category Winners Announced

Monday 6th January 2020

Costa Book of the Year Announced

Tuesday 28th January 2020

2019 Costa Book Awards Category Shortlists

Check below to see the shortlist for each of the five categories. Winners will be announced on BBC Radio 4's Front Row on Monday 6th January.

Click here to download a 2019 Costa Book Awards shortlist poster showcasing this year’s 20 shortlisted books.

 

Costa Novel Award shortlist

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...

Confession with Blue Horses

by Sophie Hardach (Head of Zeus)

Tobi and Ella’s childhood in East Berlin is shrouded in mystery. Now adults, their past is full of unanswered questions. Both remember their family's daring and terrifying attempt to escape, which ended in tragedy. But where did their parents disappear to, and why? What happened to their little brother? And was there ever a painting of three blue horses?

Starling Days

by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan (Sceptre)

Oscar hopes that leaving New York for London, with its flower markets and old school friends, will give Mina the space to heal her failing mental health. Mina, a classicist, searches for solace in mythological women. But she finds a beam of light in a living woman. Friendship and attraction blossom until Oscar and Mina's complicated love is tested.

Shadowplay

by Joseph O’Connor (Harvill Secker)

A magnificent novel about Bram Stoker's intense relationships with the actors Henry Irving and Ellen Terry, while working together at the Lyceum Theatre, and the inspirations that led to the creation of Dracula. Shadowplay explores the danger and complexity of unconventional love, the restlessness of creativity, and the experiences that led to the creation of the most iconic supernatural tale of all time.

 

Costa First Novel Award shortlist

Diary of a Somebody

by Brian Bilston (Picador)

It’s January 1st and Brian Bilston is determined that his New Year’s resolution will change his life. Every day for a year, he will write a poem. It’s quite simple – or so it seems ... Part tender love story, part murder mystery, part hilarious description of a wasted life, and interspersed with some of the funniest poems about the mundane and the profound, Diary of a Somebody is a stunningly original novel.

Queenie

by Candice Carty-Williams (Trapeze)

A darkly comic and unflinchingly raw depiction of a young woman trying to navigate her way in the world, Queenie is a story about identity, independence and carving your own path.

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?

The Other Half of Augusta Hope

by Joanna Glen (The Borough Press)

The Other Half of Augusta Hope intertwines the stories of Augusta Hope from small-town England and Parfait Nduwimana from Burundi – two very different kinds of outcasts who are both struggling to find their way in the world. It’s a love story of two people who find themselves – and each other – in the most unexpected of ways.

 

Costa Biography Award shortlist

On Chapel Sands: My mother and other missing persons

by Laura Cumming (Chatto & Windus)

In the autumn of 1929, a small child was kidnapped from a Lincolnshire beach. Five days went by before she was found in a nearby village. The child remembered nothing of these events, nobody ever spoke of them at home and it was another 50 years before she even learned of the kidnap. On Chapel Sands is a book of mystery and memoir with two concurrent narratives: the mother’s childhood tale; and Cumming’s own pursuit of the truth.

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.

In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin

by Lindsey Hilsum (Chatto & Windus)

One of the most daring war reporters of her generation, Marie Colvin was as famous for her wild parties as for the extraordinary lengths she went to tell a story, with fierce compassion and honesty. Fellow foreign correspondent and one of her closest friends, Lindsey Hilsum, draws on unpublished diaries and interviews with those closest to Colvin to produce a gripping life story of one of the most inspirational women of our times.

The Making of Poetry: Coleridge, the Wordsworths and Their Year of Marvels

by Adam Nicolson (William Collins)

Brimming with poetry, nature and stunning woodcut illustrations, this is a unique account of the year that Coleridge and Wordsworth spent together in the Quantock Hills producing poems that were to become some of the most famous in the English language.

 

Costa Poetry Award shortlist

Surge

by Jay Bernard (Chatto & Windus)

Jay Bernard’s extraordinary debut is an exploration of the black British archive: an enquiry into the New Cross Fire of 1981, a house fire in south London in which thirteen young black people were killed. A ground-breaking work of excavation, memory and activism, Surge shines a much-needed light on an unacknowledged chapter in British history, one that powerfully resonates now.

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.

The Mizzy

by Paul Farley (Picador)

Farley is interested in the peripheral, in edgelands and no-man’s-lands – the lives of others, and their strange occupations; the birds and unsung-by-the-pocket-guides fauna and flora you miss. The Mizzy encapsulates one of poetry’s most capacious and eclectic imaginations.

Reckless Paper Birds

by John McCullough (Penned in the Margins)

Surreal, joyful, political and queer, Reckless Paper Birds is a collection to treasure by Polari Prize-winning poet John McCullough. These exuberant poems welcome you into a psychedelic, parallel world of ‘vomit and blossom’. With a magpie’s eye for hidden charms, McCullough ranges across birdlife, Grindr and My Little Pony while also addressing social issues from homelessness to homophobia.

 

Costa Children’s Book Award shortlist

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…

Crossfire

by Malorie Blackman (Penguin Books)

Crossfire is Malorie Blackman’s extraordinary return to her ground-breaking Noughts & Crosses series. Thirty-four years ago Sephy - a Cross - met Callum - a Nought. Their love was forbidden, powerful - and deadly. Life appears to be very different now, but with rivalries these fierce, old wounds are hard to heal. And someone is bound to get caught in the crossfire.

In the Shadow of Heroes

by Nicholas Bowling (Chicken House)

When his master disappears and a slave called Tog arrives with a secret message, Cadmus is swept up on a quest that leads to Emperor Nero and his crazed determination to possess the Golden Fleece of Greek mythology. The journey will push him to the edge of the Roman Empire – and reveal unexpected truths about himself…

Furious Thing

by Jenny Downham (David Fickling Books)

Furious Thing roars with justifiable anger at an unfair world. Lexi’s angry and it’s getting worse. If she could stop losing her temper, things might get better – but pushing anger down doesn’t make it go away. Furious Thing explores the myriad ways a girl’s sense of self can be whittled away and what happens when she fights back.

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.

 

Click here for full Costa Book Awards terms and click here for full Costa Short Story Award terms.