William Boyd has won the Costa Novel Award for Restless, the tale of a wartime spy. It's actually his second Whitbread/Costa win, as his debut novel A Good Man in Africa, won a quarter of a century ago. The Independent reports that:
The judges described the novel as unputdownable. "Restless remains in the mind long after you finish it. Double-cross, double-bluff, all written with effortless clarity."Boyd being a sensible chap said it was necessary to keep a "properly balanced" view of prizes:
I think they're a good thing because they encourage readers and that's what all writers want. But you have to look on it as the equivalent of a win on the horses or the lottery.The First Novel Award went to Stef Penney a London-based screenwriter for The Tenderness of Wolves, a murder mystery set in 19th century Canada. Penney was unable to research her novel in Canada as she was suffering from agoraphobia, and unable to fly. So much for the old adage about writing what you know!
The Biography Award went to Keeping Mum: A Wartime Childhood by Brian Thompson. Thopson is a playwright and biographer, and he realised that his own family provided him with an ideal subject, though he says he found the book very difficult to write:
... it took me a very long time to realise that some of the most interesting and frightening and abusive people I'd ever met were my parents. I'd been looking in the wrong place for my stories.John Haynes, considered an outsider when the shortlist (which included nobel winner Seamus Heaney) was announced, won the Poetry Award for Letter to Patience.
And goodness, the subject of this book length poem strikes a chord with me: it's an imaginery letter written by a man who has returned to Britain from Nigeria, reflecting on how the experience has changed him. The judges described it as:
... a unique long poem of outstanding quality, condensing a lifetime of reflection and experience into a work of transporting momentum, imaginative lucidity, and consummate formal accomplishment.Veteran writer Linda Newberry took the Children's Book Award for Set in Stone:
... an emotionally charged narrative will thrill all lovers of intelligent fiction ...the judges said.
The overall prize winner will be announced on 7 February.