Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Costa Reading

It's an all female shortlist for the Costa Book First Novel Award this year with three of the four nominees originally from the Indian subcontinent:

The selected titles are:
A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam
Gifted by Nikita Lalwani
What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn
Mosquito by Roma Tearne
Meanwhile the nominees for the Costa Novel Award are:
Skin Lane by Neil Bartlett
Day by A.L. Kennedy
Death of a Murderer by Rupert Thomson
The Road Home by Rose Tremain
Note that there's no overlap at all with the Booker list! The best know of these authors is of course Rose Tremain who wrote Music and Silence, but as Charlotte Higgins points out in the Guardian:
... the other novels on the shortlist display a more offbeat aesthetic: AL Kennedy, Neil Bartlett and Rupert Thomson are all respected writers with form, but whose reputations have perhaps bubbled away without necessarily breaking into the top rank of household names. Bartlett is as well known for his career in opera and theatre directing as for his writing; Kennedy also performs as a stand-up comedian.
You can find out more about each of these titles, and also find the nominees for the poetry, non-fiction and children's award on the Costa Awards website. The winner in each category will be announced January 3rd and the overall winner on January 22nd.

Arifa Akbar in the Independent meanwhile highlights the story of Catherine O'Flynn who was turned down by 15 publishers before Birmingham-based independent Tindal Street Press took her on:
O'Flynn, who has also worked as a teacher, web manager and civil servant, said she wrote her novel almost accidentally. Her creative side was awakened by her work at a shopping centre in the West Midlands. "There were many things about it that made me want to write. The trance-like state of the shoppers consuming everything in their wake, the eeriness of the empty centre at night, the constant awareness of surveillance, the differing experiences of staff and shoppers, the industrial past buried beneath it.

"I kept writing about it – almost obsessively, I really wanted to pin down the essence of the place but at that stage there was no plan for this to be a novel.

"Then I heard a story doing the rounds among the centre security guards of a child being seen on one of the CCTV monitors in the middle of the night and that image stayed with me."

She was longlisted for the Orange and Booker Prizes this year, and is also on the shortlist for the Guardian first book award!

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