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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Costa Book of the Year


On Tuesday, it was announced that Sebastian Barry had won the Costa Book of the Year Award for his novel Days Without End.  The judges of the £30,000 prizes said it was “A miracle of a book – both epic and intimate – that manages to create spaces for love and safety in the noise and chaos of history” (http://www.costa.co.uk/media/452121/sb-cboy.pdf

The book follows the life of Thomas McNulty, a migrant who flees Ireland during the Irish famine.  McNulty reaches America and embarks on a soldier’s life, first fighting Native Americans and then against armies in the civil war.  Barry, who has said he was inspired to write a book containing a gay love story after his son came out, also focuses on McNulty’s romance with fellow soldier John Cole, and their adopted Native American daughter, Winona.

Barry previously won the award, one of the UK’s most prestigious literary awards, in 2008 for his novel The Secret Scripture. 


Celebrating books across five categories – novel, first novel, children’s fiction, poetry and biography – the Costa awards shortlist four writers in each category, with the winner in each then eligible to win the overall book of the year award.  I highlighted the four novels in the fiction category back in November:  http://schatjesshelves.blogspot.ca/2016/11/2016-costa-book-awards-shortlists_29.html.

For an interesting interview with the winning author, read this recent story in The Guardian:  https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/feb/01/sebastian-barry-costa-book-award-2017-days-without-end-interview-gay-son?CMP=twt_books_b-gdnbooks.