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“And the winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award is…”

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Winner Sebastian Barry

Winner Sebastian Barry

Sebastian Barry has won the Costa Book of the Year Award after narrowly losing out in October’s Man Booker prize. The Irish novelist was announced as the winner at a ceremony in London on Thursday 27 January.

The winning book, The Secret Scripture, has been described as a moving account of a woman’s stolen life and her efforts to reclaim the past.

The judges heralded the book as an “exquisitely written love story that takes you on an unforgettable journey – you won’t read a better book this year.”

Barry was the bookmaker’s favourite to take the £25,000 prize beating what many considered to be the most acclaimed shortlist in the prize’s history. Sebastian wasn’t the only winner first time bestselling novelist Sadie Jones and her book The Outcast won the first book award whilst 91 years old Diana Athill became the oldest short listed winner for her historical memoires Somewhere Before The End.

Following the judging, Matthew Parris, chair of the final judges, said: “Sebastian Barry has created one of the great narrative voices in contemporary fiction in The Secret Scripture. It is a book of great brilliance, powerfully and beautifully written.”

The winners in each category are as followed:

Each shortlisted winner will take home £5,000 whilst the Sebastian Barry took home £25,000.

Watch Sebastian Barry talk about contemporary Irish voices below:

Discussion:
Has anyone read The Secret Scripture? What is it about Irish writers that makes them stand apart from some of their English counterparts?

Words: Seamus Swords

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Booker Prize and Costa Awards judging panels announced

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Aravind Adiga with his Man Booker Prize winning novel White Tiger

Aravind Adiga with his Man Booker Prize winning novel White Tiger

The organisers behind two of the biggest book awards have announced the judging panels for their 2009 awards. The Man Booker Prize and The Costa Book Awards are some of the most respected in the literary world and anyone asked to judge these awards must see it as a great honour.

The judging panel for The Man Booker prize has been announced with the powers that be opting for a more ‘serious’ line-up. Heading up the critics is Today Program (BBC Radio 4) presenter Jim Naughtie providing some serious journalist clout and is definitely a more suited judge than last year’s choice Michael Portillo.

The remaining seats on the judging panel will be filled by literary editor of The Sunday Telegraph Michael Prodger, the writer Lucasta Miller, who has written a critically acclaimed book on the Bronte’s. Every literature judging panel has to include the token celebrity personality and this year that great honour has fallen to Sue Perkins of Mel and Sue fame. Check out the full panel right here.

The Costa Book Award has announced its judging panel (already touched on by The Scribbler) leaning towards a more broadcasting friendly collective. The judges include world renowned reporter Michael Buerk and comedian/actor Alexander Armstrong. The panel is headed up by columnist and broadcaster Matthew Parris. To see the full line-up and biographies of the judges click here.

Watch last year’s Man Booker Prize winner Aravind Adiga talks about his award winning book White Tiger:

Discussion:
Are the personalities listed here qualified enough to decide which piece of writing should win over another? Who would you like to see on a book award judging panel?

Words: Seamus Swords