Annal: 2009 Costa Book Award for First Novel

Results of the Costa Book Award in the year 2009.

Book:Beauty (Raphael Selbourne)

Beauty

Raphael Selbourne

Beauty—in both name and appearance—is a twenty-year-old Bangladeshi, back in England having disgraced her family by fleeing an abusive arranged marriage. Placed on the jobseekers’ treadmill, and under continuing domestic pressure, in desperation, she runs away.

Her encounters with officialdom, fellow claimants, and passers-by in the city streets, complicated by the restrictions and comfort of her language and culture, place her at the mercy of such unlikely helpers as Mark, a friendly, Staffordshire Bull Terrier-breeding ex-offender, and Peter, a middle-class underachiever on the rebound from a bitter relationship.

Determined and spirited, yet tormented by doubts, Beauty is forced to examine her own beliefs and think seriously about her future. While her brothers search for her across the city, the conflict between her desire for personal freedom and her sense of family duty deepens. What will she do?

A sharply rendered, compassionate and challenging portrait of a fragmented, multicultural urban England.

Book:The Finest Type of English Womanhood

The Finest Type of English Womanhood

Rachel Heath

It’s 1946, and seventeen-year-old Laura Trelling is stagnating in her dilapidated Sussex family home, while her quietly eccentric parents slip further into isolation. Then she meets Paul Lovell—a chance encounter that will change the course of her destiny, and bring her a new life in pre-apartheid South Africa.

Three years earlier, and many miles north, sixteen-year-old Gay Gibson is no less desperate to escape England. Gay’s heart is set on stardom—but first she must find a way out of Birkenhead and the dreary prospect of secretarial college.

When their paths cross in Johannesburg, Laura is exposed to Gay’s wild life of parties and liaisons. Thrown together, each with her own agenda, the girls find their lives inextricably entangled, with fatal consequences…

A highly accomplished, startling debut, The Finest Type of English Womanhood is a chilling portrait of racial tension, social immorality, betrayal and love, and an assured and atmospheric examination of the end of innocence.

Book:The Girl with Glass Feet

The Girl with Glass Feet: A Novel

Ali Shaw

An inventive and richly visual novel about young lovers on a quest to find a cure for a magical ailment, perfect for readers of Alice Hoffman.

Strange things are happening on the remote and snowbound archipelago of St. Hauda’s Land. Unusual winged creatures flit around the icy bogland, albino animals hide themselves in the snow-glazed woods, and Ida Maclaird is slowly turning into glass. Ida is an outsider in these parts, a mainlander who has visited the islands only once before. Yet during that one fateful visit the glass transformation began to take hold, and now she has returned in search of a cure.

Midas Crook is a young loner who has lived on the islands his entire life. When he meets Ida, something about her sad, defiant spirit pierces his emotional defenses. As Midas helps Ida come to terms with her affliction, she gradually unpicks the knots…[more]

Book:John the Revelator

John the Revelator: A Novel

Peter Murphy

This is the story of John Devine—stuck in a small town in the eerie landscape of Southeast Ireland, worried over by his single, chain-smoking, bible-quoting mother, Lily, and spied on by the “neighborly” Mrs. Nagle. When Jamey Corboy, a self-styled Rimbaudian boy wonder, arrives in town, John’s life suddenly seems full of possibility. His loneliness dissipates. He is taken up by mischief and discovery, hiding in the world beyond as Lily’s mysterious illness worsens. But Jamey and John’s nose for trouble may be their undoing and soon John will be faced with a terrible moral dilemma.

Joining the ranks of the great novels of friendship and betrayal—A Separate Peace, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha John the Revelator grapples with the pull of the world and the hold of those we love. Suffused with family secrets, eerie imagery, black humor, and hypnotic prose, John the Revelator is a novel to fall in love with and an astounding debut.

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