Book Spines at a site for book, writing, and literary prizes
The Book Gnome
The Book Gnome, a site for book, writing, and literary prizes

Costa Book Award - April 2017

The Costa Book Awards provides literary prizes in the UK for authors based in the UK and Ireland.

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.

This year, on 31 January, the overall Costa Book of the Year went to Days Without End by Sebastian Barry.

The category prizes awarded this year are

  • FIRST NOVEL - Golden Hill by Francis Spufford
  • NOVEL - Days Without End by Sebastian Barry
  • POETRY - Falling Awake by Alice Oswald
  • CHILDREN'S BOOK - The Bombs That Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan
  • BIOGRAPHY - Dadland: A Journey into Uncharted Territory by Keggie Carew

The Costa Book Awards provides brief reviews of the award winners and their books.

Waterstones book of the year 2016 - March 2017

Sarah Perry won the Waterstones Book of the Year Award with her novel The Essex Serpent in November.

The Essex Serpent is Perry's second novel. Her debut novel, After Me Comes the Flood, was published in 2014 to considerable critical acclaim. It tells the story of John Cole who goes looking for his brother during a drought and discovers into a strange world.

Victorian London in 1893, and Cora Seaborne's husband dies. She is pleased to be free from an unhappy marriage to a bully, and decides to move to Essex with her son, Francis, to start a new life. In Colchester, she learns about the mysterious Essex serpent and is intrigued by the possibility of its return. This brings her into conflict with the local vicar, William Ransome, who is determined to end superstition in his parish.

Inspired by the myth of a sea-serpent on the Essex coast, the novel is written in a gothic style. It is told with intelligence and exquisite grace that will please the reader enormously,

Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2016 - February 2017

Alex Wheatle is 53 years old and traces his interest in books back to his time in jail after the 1981 Brixton riots. It is his first prize, after writing 6 adult books then turning to fiction for young adults.

On 16 November, Wheatle won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize with a novel set in a fictitious, crime-ridden estate, where knives and phone jacking are common by those he calls "hood rats".

The winning novel, Crongton Knights, is number two in a trilogy, set on the South Crongton estate - the date for the publication of the third book has yet to be announced.

McKay, a local schoolboy, attempts to help a girl whose is worried that the thief who stole her phone, will expose her sexting. His action turns into a dangerous adventure.

"I love this book. It's elegant, authentic and humane. This is mature, powerful writing by an author with great talent and great heart," said Almond, who won the prize last year with A Song for Ella Grey.

Goldsmiths Prize 2016 - January 2017

Mike McCormack won the Goldsmiths Prize on 16 November for his novel Solar Bones.

Marcus Conway, is a middle-aged husband, father and a civil engineer. He returns to his home in rural Ireland, and considers the events that took him away and then brought him home again.

Marcus Conway is responsible in his own way for the many buildings and bridges that sprung up in the boom and changed Ireland. He recalls his father and mother's lives in small town Ireland, and the constant pressure from politicians and developers at work. He remembers skyping his son in Australia, and visiting his artist daughter's first solo exhibition which consisted of the text from court reports written in her own blood. He is overcome by a "a crying sense of loneliness for my family".

The book experiments with structure and succeeds. The brave approach to story telling produces a wonderfully original and provocative novel from a writer who looks like he will become deservedly famous.

Not the Booker Prize 2016 - December 2016

On the 24 October, Tiffany McDaniel was named as the winner of the Not the Booker Prize for her book The Summer That Melted Everything.

Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984. It was the year that a heat wave scorched the small town of Breathed, Ohio, and also the year that he became friends with the devil.

The story starts when local prosecutor, Autopsy Bliss, invites the devil to come to his small town in Ohio. To the surprise of the residents, the devil actually turns up in the form of a tattered and bruised thirteen-year-old boy called Sal.

Fielding, the son of Autopsy, finds the boy outside the courthouse and brings him home. The Bliss family welcome the boy thinking that he is a runaway from a nearby farm town. A heat wave hits the town when he arrives, and Sal claims to be the devil. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe Sal is who he claims to be.

The Bliss family wrestle with their demons, and the sleepy Ohio town is driven to the brink of catastrophe.

Man Booker Prize 2016 - November 2016

This year, the Man Booker Prize was awarded to Paul Beatty, American author, for his novel The Sellout. Beatty is the first American to win the prize - US authors only became eligible to enter for the prize in 2014.

The Sellout is a satire on race relations in contemporary America. It is narrated by African-American 'Bonbon' who lives in the run-down town of Dickens in Los Angeles county. Bonbon was raised by a single father who led him to believe that his memoirs would bring the family great wealth. When his father is killed, he discovers that there never was a memoir.

Intent on solving the problems of his town, Bonbon co-opts famous Hominy Jenkins. He implements a plan which involves segregating the local high school and the reintroduction of slavery. This lands him in the Supreme Court for challenging rights established by the US Constitution.

The book is populated with characters that parody racial stereotypes, and reflects race relations in the US today. Its themes are particularly topical, as Beatty attacks racial taboos relentlessly and searingly.

National Book Awards 2016

Colson Whitehead won the National Book Award for fiction for his novel The Underground Railroad on 16 November.

The central character is Cora, a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. While life is bad for all the slaves, it is worse for Cora because she is rejected by the other slaves.

Her life takes a turn when she learns about the Underground Railroad from Caesar, and together they plan to take the risk and escape from slavery. Her journey is fraught with difficulty.

Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, which seems at first to be a haven, but turns out not to be the case for black people. Even worse, Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close to catching them so the have to flee. Cora runs from state to state to avoid being returned to slavery.

The novel is both the story of one woman's brave and determined struggle to be free, and the powerful contemplation of a major element of American history.

Books Are My Bag Readers Awards 2016

Max Porter won the 2016 Books Are My Bag Readers Awards winners with Grief is the Thing with Feathers.

Two young boys and their father are grieving the death of a mother and wife. In the midst of their grief, Crow arrives, uninvited, to stay.

He is needed by the family, despite the ever-present smell of decay and scruffy feathers. He is a friend, a reminder, a message, a comfort, and a nuisance. He antagonises, cares, and tricks, but most importantly, he helps the family heal, very slowly but steadily.

Crow is drawn to the grieving family, and becomes a fixture. There is no fanfare and the change is almost imperceptible but effective. Crow enables, without any fanfare, healing for the boys and their father.

Grief is the Thing with Feathers is Porter's debut novel. It is an extraordinarily well written novel from a talented new author who will hopefully continue to produce books of such an exceptionally high standard.

The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year 2016

The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year award won by Max Porter for his debut novel Grief is the Thing with Feathers. The novel has already won the International Dylan Thomas Prize and at the Books Are My Bag Readers Award 2016 in the fiction category.

The prize of £5,000, is awarded annually by the judges to a work that is considered to be of exceptional literary merit to a work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by a young British or Irish author aged between 18 and 35. This year the award was judged by BBC books editor James Naughtie, historian Stella Tillyard and The Sunday Times's literary editor Andrew Holgate.

The Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2016

The Best Younger Fiction category and overall winner of the Watersones Children's Book Prize went to David Solomons for his debut book My Brother is a Superhero. It is a hugely funny book about desperate-wannabe superhero Luke Parker and his superhero brother Zack. Their page-turning adventure is delightfully spiced with comic book trivia.

David Litchfield won the Best Illustrated Book Category with his picture book, The Bear and the Piano. The detailed illustrations weave a wonderful tale of warmth and emotion through a bear that plays the piano. It is a tale about dreams and friendship that can be read with pleasure again and again and again and ...

The winner of the Best Older Fiction Category was Lisa Williamson with her cleverly named book The Art of Being Normal The book deals with the complex issues of gender, identity and sexual orientation. The narrative revolves around two friends both very different from the normal, introducing young people to the challenges faced by some of their peers, whilst delivering a compelling story.

David Cohen Prize for Literature - Winner March 2017

David Cohen Prize for Literature - Winner March 2017

Etisalat Prize for Literature - Winner March 2017

Etisalat Prize - Winner March 2017

Pulitzer Prize for Literature - Winner 10 April 2017

Pulitzer Prize - Winner 10 April 2017

The Stella Prize - Winner 18 April 2017

The Stella Prize - Winner 18 April 2017

Other noteworthy prizes are



Sexism in publishing: 'My novel wasn't the problem, it was me, Catherine'

Author reveals that submitting her manuscript to agents under a male pseudonym brought more than eight times the number of responses.

'They had issues': Sally Wainwright and Tracy Chevalier discuss the Brontës

Sally Wainwright's new drama To Walk Invisible offers a radical new take on the Brontës. She talks to novelist Tracy Chevalier about the siblings' extraordinary lives.

The 10 Best Books of 2016

The year's best books, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. 1 December 2016.

Charlotte Brontë, the filthy bitch

Enough of the Brontë industry's veneration of coffins, bonnets and TB. It is time to exhume the real Charlotte - filthy bitch, grandmother of chick-lit, and friend.

Beryl Bainbridge was nice as well as naughty - and a brilliant novelist

The fictions of Beryl Bainbridge's life were as important to her as the facts. As a novelist, she knew the dramatic exigencies of telling a tale.

Visit KS Learning for notes and articles on Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë for A level English Literature essays and coursework.

Visit KS Learning for notes and articles on The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald for A level English Literature essays and coursework.

Visit KS Learning for notes and articles on Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote for A level English Literature essays and coursework.

Visit KS Learning for notes and articles on A Streetcar named Desire by Tennessee Williams for A level English Literature essays and coursework.

Thank you for visiting The Book Gnome. Visit us on Facebook or send your thoughts and comments to The Book Gnome, especially book recommendations and reviews.