Novelist Kate Atkinson has been shortlisted for a Costa Book Award 2015 for her latest work, A God in Ruins.
She is nominated in the novel award category alongside The Green Road, Anne Enright’s tale of a fractious family reunion, Patrick Gale’s A Place Called Winter, the story of a Canadian emigrant who cannot leave his demons behind, and Melissa Harrison’s At Hawthorn Time, about bored rural retirees.
A biography on the “lost hero” who inspired Charles Darwin, a debut author’s gothic horror loved by Stephen King and a children’s ghost story are also among the works shortlisted.
Just 20 books have been selected from 638 entries to compete across the five categories and for the overall title of 2015 Costa Book of the Year.
The Novel award list is led by previous winner Kate Atkinson for A God in Ruins, which competes against The nominees for the First Novel award are Sara Baume’s tale of companionship between an old man and his dog, Spill Simmer Falter Wither, Kate Hamer’s heartstopping tale of a missing eight-year-old girl, The Girl In The Red Coat, an isolated girl’s obsession with her classmate in Tasha Kavanagh’s Things We Have in Common, and Andrew Michael Hurley’s page-turner The Loney, praised as “an amazing piece of fiction” by Stephen King.
Diverse biographies on authors Lewis Caroll and Thomas Hardy, antiquarian John Aubrey and the “the most famous man in the world after Napoleon”, scientist Andrew Von Humboldt, who inspired Darwin’s expedition aboard the Beagle, will vie for the Costa Biography Award.
Two debut collections bookend the Poetry Award - Andrew McMillan’s exploration of masculinity, Physical, and Kate Miller’s study of time and memory, The Observances. They are shortlisted alongside former winner Don Paterson’s 40 Sonnets and Neil Rollinson’s visceral examination of the human condition, Talking Dead.
Previous Children’s Book Award winner Maggot Moon inspired nominee Hayley Long’s coded story of a teenage girl on the brink of discovering a family secret in Sophie Someone, which takes its place in the children’s shortlist alongside a girl’s attempt to prove the cause of her father’s suspicious death in Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree, a search for a lost inheritance in An Island of Our Own, by Sally Nicholls, and the growing friendship between a bullied boy called Francis and a dead girl called Jessica in Jessica’s Ghost, by Andrew Norriss.
Judges on this year’s panels included biographer and broadcaster Penny Junor, writers Matt Haig, Louise Doughty and Martyn Bedford and poet and children’s author Julia Copus.
The winners of each category, who are awarded £5,000, will be announced on January 4 2016.
The overall winner of the £30,000 Book of the Year prize will be revealed at the award ceremony on January 26.