Annal: 2010 Costa Book Award for First Novel

Results of the Costa Book Award in the year 2010.

Book:Witness the Night

Witness the Night

Kishwar Desai

In a small town in the heart of India, a young girl is found tied to a bed inside a townhouse where thirteen people lie dead. The girl is alive, but she has been beaten and abused. She is held in the local prison, awaiting interrogation for the murders she is believed by the local people to have committed. Visiting social worker Simran attempts to break through the girl’s mute trance to find out what happened that terrible night. As she uncovers more and more, Simran realises that she is caught in the middle of a terrifying reality, where the unwanted female offspring of families are routinely disposed of. Brilliantly atmospheric, hauntingly real, this is a major debut from an exciting new author.

Book:Coconut Unlimited

Coconut Unlimited

Nikesh Shukla

It’s Harrow in the 1990s, and Amit, Anand and Nishant are stuck. Their peers think they’re a bunch of try-hard ‘darkies’, acting street and pretending to be cool, while their community thinks they’re rich toffs, a long way from the ‘real’ Asians in Southall. So, to keep it real, they form legendary hip-hop band ‘Coconut Unlimited’. Pity they can’t rap…From struggling to find records in the suburbs and rehearsing on rubbish equipment, to evading the clutches of disapproving parents and real life drug-dealing gangsters, Coconut Unlimited documents every teenage boy’s dream and the motivations behind it: being in a band to look pretty cool—oh, and get girls…

Book:Not Quite White

Not Quite White

Simon Thirsk

The young Jon Bull is sent by Westminster to Wales’s last remaining Welsh-speaking town to see why all attempts to bring it into the twenty-first century have failed. Waiting for him is the beautiful but embittered Gwalia…Not Quite White explores the complex tensions that spit and seethe when English colonialism and Welsh nationalism go head to head. It is a passionate defence of cultural and political identity, and a considered plea for tolerance. It is also a sustained attack on the forces of small-town bigotry and corruption. But, above all, it is an acknowledgement of the subtleties and ambiguities that exist in even the most entrenched attitudes.

Book:The Temple-Goers

The Temple-Goers

Aatish Taseer

A young man returns home to Delhi after several years abroad and resumes his place among the city’s cosmopolitan elite—a world of fashion designers, media moguls and the idle rich. But everything around him has changed—new roads, new restaurants, new money, new crime—everything, that is, except for the people, who are the same, only maybe slightly worse.

Then he meets Aakash, a charismatic and unpredictable young man on the make, who introduces him to the squalid underside of this sprawling city. Together they get drunk and work out, visit temples and a prostitute, and our narrator finds himself disturbingly attracted to Aakash’s world. But when Aakash is arrested for murder, the two of them are suddenly swept up in a politically sensitive investigation that exposes the true corruption at the heart of this new and ruthless society. In a voice that is both cruel and tender, The Temple-goers brings to life the dazzling story of a city quietly burning with rage.

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