Annal: 2011 Costa Book Award for First Novel

Results of the Costa Book Award in the year 2011.

Book:Tiny Sunbirds Far Away

Tiny Sunbirds Far Away

Christie Watson

When their mother catches their father with another woman, twelve year-old Blessing and her fourteen-year-old brother, Ezikiel, are forced to leave their comfortable home in Lagos for a village in the Niger Delta, to live with their mother’s family. Without running water or electricity, Warri is at first a nightmare for Blessing. Her mother is gone all day and works suspiciously late into the night to pay the children’s school fees. Her brother, once a promising student, seems to be falling increasingly under the influence of the local group of violent teenage boys calling themselves Freedom Fighters. Her grandfather, a kind if misguided man, is trying on Islam as his new religion of choice, and is even considering the possibility of bringing in a second wife.

But Blessing’s grandmother, wise and practical, soon becomes a beloved mentor, teaching Blessing the ways of the midwife…[more]

Book:City of Bohane

City of Bohane

Kevin Barry

A blazingly original, wildly stylish, and pulpy debut novel.

Thirty or so years in the future. The once-great city of Bohane on the west coast of Ireland is on its knees, infested by vice and split along tribal lines. There are the posh parts of town, but it is in the slums and backstreets of Smoketown, the tower blocks of the North Rises, and the eerie bogs of the Big Nothin’ that the city really lives. For years it has all been under the control of Logan Hartnett, the dapper godfather of the Hartnett Fancy gang. But there’s trouble in the air. They say Hartnett’s old nemesis is back in town; his trusted henchmen are getting ambitious; and his missus wants him to give it all up and go straight.

Book:The Last Hundred Days

The Last Hundred Days

Patrick McGuinness

Once ‘the Paris of the East’, Bucharest in 1989 is a world of danger, repression and corruption, but also of intensity and ravaged beauty. As Ceaușescu’s demolition squads race to destroy the old city and replace it with a sinister Stalinist Legoland, its inhabitants live out communism’s dying days not knowing how or where things will end.

In The Last Hundred Days a young English student arrives in Bucharest to take up a job he never applied for and whose duties are never made clear. He finds dissidents, party apparatchiks, black-marketeers, diplomats, spies and ordinary Romanians, all watching each other as Europe’s most paranoid regime plays out its bloody endgame.

Book:Pao (Kerry Young)

Pao: A Novel

Kerry Young

I was just a boy when I come to Jamaica.

Kingston, 1938. Fourteen-year-old Yang Pao steps off the ship from China with his mother and brother, after his father has died fighting for the revolution. They are to live with Zhang, the ‘godfather’ of Chinatown, who mesmerises Pao with stories of glorious Chinese socialism on one hand, and the reality of his protection business on the other.

When Pao takes over the family’s affairs he becomes a powerful man. He sets his sights on marrying well,but when Gloria Campbell, a black prostitute, comes to him for help he is drawn to her beauty and strength. They begin a relationship that continues even after Pao marries Fay Wong, the ‘acceptable’ but headstrong daughter of a wealthy Chinese merchant.

As the political violence escalates in the 1960s the lines between Pao’s socialist ideals and private ambitions become…[more]

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