THE Scots poet Kathleen Jamie is among the category winners of the Costa Book Awards, which also include a husband and wife team who tackled the family legacy of James Joyce and became the first authors to win for a comic book.
The five winners in the novel, first novel, biography, poetry and children’s book categories were announced last night and will now each go forward for the Costa Book of the Year Award, the winner of which will be revealed later this month.
Mary and Bryan Talbot jointly won the Costa Biography Award for Dotter of her Father’s Eyes, an adult comic book which interweaves two father-daughter relationships, that of James Joyce and his daughter Lucia and that of Mary Talbot and her father, who was a James Joyce scholar.
Kathleen Jamie, the Scots writer, won the poetry award for her collection, The Overhaul, while Hilary Mantel won the novel category for Bring up the Bodies, which also won the 2012 Man Booker Award.
The first-novel category was won by Francesca Segal, a journalist and critic, for The Innocents, set around a wedding in the Jewish community of north London, while the children’s book was won by Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner, who has dyslexia and was branded “unteachable” as a child.
Each of the five winners, who were chosen from 550 entries, will receive £5,000 and are now eligible for the grand prize, which comes with a cash award of £30,000.
Yesterday, Ms Jamie, who teaches creative writing at Stirling University, said she was delighted by the news.
“I was very surprised as I had managed to forget that the Costa Prize existed, but I’m delighted, very pleased,” she said.
“The Costa Prize has always been very hospitable to poetry and for that I’m grateful. But it’s a strange prize as now all the winners of these different disciplines go forward to the main prize.
“I wouldn’t want to be one of the judges.”
The poet said she will be spending the £5,000 prize money on a new central heating boiler, as well as a dress to wear to the awards ceremony at Quaglino’s restaurant in London on 29 January.
“It’s my daughter’s 15th birthday so I’ll be taking her along as my guest,” she added.
Mr Talbot said the award for Dotter of her Father’s Eyes was further recognition that comics were a valid art form.
He said: “The comic medium came of age about 30 years ago, but then there weren’t enough quality books to sustain it. But now, after 30 years, there are enough quality titles and range of styles and genres that there is a canon of work.
“This is the first time there has been a Costa nomination and we are overjoyed. It’s great. It is just one more indication of how much the graphic novel can be seen as a valid art form.”
Talbot said she was delighted and also relieved. “When I set out to write the book, I thought would anyone care about my own story?” she said.
The Costa Book Awards seek to recognise the most outstanding and enjoyable books of the year by writers based in the UK and Ireland.
Originally established in 1971 by Whitbread PLC, Costa Coffee took over the sponsorship in 2006.
Yesterday, Christopher Rogers, the managing director of Costa, said: “We’re very proud to be announcing such a diverse and excellent collection of books, which we know people will enjoy reading.”
The winner will be selected by a panel of judges chaired by Dame Jenni Murray. The panel members are Jenny Agutter, Katie Derham, Mark Watson, Sophie Ward, Wendy Holden, DJ Taylor, Daljit Nagra and Marcus Sedgwick.
The favourite to win, according to bookmakers William Hill, is Bring Up the Bodies with odds of 5/4, followed by The Innocents at 3/1, Dotter of her Father’s Eyes at 4/1, The Overhaul at 5/1 and Maggot Moon at 7/1.
THE OVERHAUL BY KATHLEEN JAMIE - POETRY AWARD
Described by the judges as “the collection that will convert you to poetry, we were blown away by the power of its simplicity”, The Overhaul is Kathleen Jamie’s first collection since the award-winning The Tree House was published in 2004 and sees the poet examine the world around us. In the poetry collection Jamie examines the natural world such as birds and rivers, as well as the need to accept loss and, sometimes, the desire to escape from our own lives. Born in Renfrewshire, Jamie studied philosophy at Edinburgh University and now teaches at Stirling University.
THE INNOCENTS BY FRANCESCA SEGAL - FIRST NOVEL AWARD
The author has modelled her first novel, The Innocents on Edith Wharton’s novel, The Age of Innocence. A graduate in experimental psychology at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, Segal has explored the Jewish community in London in a novel that focuses on a forthcoming wedding. Adam and Rachel are childhood sweethearts with a wedding date set in the calendar when Rachel’s reckless cousin, Ellie, arrives from America and becomes an object of obsession for her fiancé. Ellie represents everything that Adam has striven to avoid, as well as everything that is missing from his world.
DOTTER OF HER FATHER’S EYES BY MARY AND BRYAN TALBOT - BIOGRAPHY AWARD
The first comic book or “graphic work” to win the best biography award is illustrated by Bryan Talbot, a veteran artist who has drawn characters such as Judge Dredd and Batman, as well as The Tale of One Bad Rat, a critically acclaimed tale about a child’s recovery from sexual abuse. The text of Dotter of her Father’s Eyes was co-written by his wife, Mary, and tells two parallel stories, the first about the relationship between James Joyce and his daughter Lucia, and that of Mary Talbot and her own father, James S Atherton, who was an eminent scholar of Joyce.
MAGGOT MOON BY SALLY GARDNER - CHILDREN’S BOOK AWARD
The novel for teenagers is set in an alternative dystopian world where one ruthless regime, known as the Motherland, is battling to become the first nation to reach the moon. Hector and Standish are friends and live in Zone Seven where they, like everyone else, are under constant supervision by the authorities, but when they discover something about the Motherland’s plans for the moon landing their lives are put in danger. Gardner was diagnosed as severely dyslexic at the age of 12 and since graduating with a first-class degree from St Martin’s Central School of Art she has also worked a theatre designer. She views her dyslexia as a gift.
BRING UP THE BODIES BY HILARY MANTEL - NOVEL AWARD
Critics rarely tip their hats at historical fiction, but everyone has bowed down before Hilary Mantel’s dark, imaginative re-telling of the life of Thomas Cromwell, the chief minister to Henry VIII. The first book in what will now be a trilogy, Wolf Hall, won the Man Booker Prize, a feat repeated by the sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, which made Mantel the only British author to win the prize twice. Bring Up the Bodies follows Henry’s infatuation with Jane Seymour and Cromwell’s task in framing Anne Boleyn for adultery and ushering her to the executioner’s block.