The Costa Book Awards
Costa Book of the Year 2017: Inside the Wave by Helen Dunmore
‘We were all stunned by these breathtaking poems,’ declared the Costa judges. As both author and poet, Helen Dunmore was very much a writer's writer. Following her death last summer, Inside the Wave stands as her final, magnificent collection of verse, embracing life at its most epic and its most intimate. Winning the Costa Book of the Year is a very special moment for her publisher Bloodaxe too, whose leading light Neil Astley has championed Helen’s work since the publication of her first collection in 1983. ‘Her last collection is her most spare and moving,’ commented the Guardian. ‘Inside the Wave is smooth as a sea pebble and liminal – poised between life and death.’
The Costa Book Awards take a good sweep of the field - fiction, biography, poetry and children's literature - and over the years the track record has been impressive. Hilary Mantel, Kazuo Ishiguro, Kate Atkinson, Claire Tomalin and Philip Pullman are just a handful of the literary stars who have previously clinched the award over its prestigious history.
Category Winners and Shortlists
Novel Award Winner
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017 and name-checked in numerous end-of-year critical roundups, Jon McGregor’s return to the novel after a seven-year absence is a deeply sensitive exploration of loss and the unsaid. The disappearance of a 13-year-old girl from an anonymous Peak District village opens a subtle, unbreachable chasm of guilt and vague suspicion, masterfully played out over the years that follow.
Novel Award Shortlist
First Novel Winner
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is by turns hilarious and heartbreaking. Eleanor is 31 years old; work finishes on a Friday and begins again on a Monday. Between, her only company will be two bottles of vodka and her own solitary, unique wit. It is contentment, of a kind, but an unexpected shared experience suddenly opens the door to possibility. Defying reader expectations with a living, breathing character, Gail Honeyman’s debut is a funny and moving gem.
First Novel Award Shortlist
Biography Award Winner
The Exclusive Brethren: patriarchal, ultra-hardline Christian fundamentalists, believing the world beyond their own doors to be ruled by Satan. Into this is born Rebecca, her father as charismatic as he is intimidating, a preacher for the sect. Gradually he contrives to break his family free, but the aftermath proves to be as disorientating and devastating as the cult experience itself. A mesmeric, knowing journal of extreme belief and human foible.
Biography Award Shortlist
Poetry Award Winner
We lost Helen Dunmore in the summer of last year, but Inside the Wave is a clear-eyed summation of a talent that will live on forever in the psyche of her readers. Perhaps like her own dual identity as both author and poet, her tenth and final collection could be seen as a series of borderlands, balanced between one state and the next: there are certainly reflections on mortality, but Inside the Wave is ultimately an extraordinary celebration of life.
Poetry Award Shortlist
Children's Award Winner
Oh how we love Katherine Rundell! Rooftoppers walked away with our Waterstones Children’s Book Prize in 2014 and The Explorer simply explodes with all the qualities that made Rooftoppers a classic. Four children survive their aircraft plunging into the Amazon jungle, but for Fred and his friends it’s only the beginning of a brutal battle for survival. Brimming with adventure and a real command of character and incident, Rundell has few peers in superb children’s fiction.
Children's Award Shortlist