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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Sebastian Barry Wins Costa Novel Award

Yesterday, the winners of the Costa Book Awards were announced.  (The Costa Book Awards is one of the UK's most prestigious literary prizes; books written by authors based in the UK and Ireland are eligible.)

The winner in the Novel category is Sebastian Barry for his Days Without End.  

Thomas McNulty, aged barely seventeen and having fled the Great Famine in Ireland, signs up for the U.S. Army in the 1850s.  With his brother in arms, John Cole, Thomas goes on to fight in the Indian Wars—against the Sioux and the Yurok—and, ultimately, the Civil War.  Orphans of terrible hardships themselves, the men find these days to be vivid and alive, despite the horrors they see and are complicit in.  Their lives are further enriched and endangered when a young Indian girl crosses their path, and the possibility of lasting happiness emerges, if only they can survive.

The judges said, “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.”

Sebastian Barry first took the Costa Novel Award for The Secret Scripture in 2008. Days Without End has been described as stylistically similar to The Secret Scripture.  I loved The Secret Scripture and so am anxious to read Barry’s latest.

For information about the four finalists in the Novel category, go to   

There are five categories in the Costa Book Awards - First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry, and Children's Book.  For information about the winners in all the categories, go to

On January 31, one of the five winning books will be selected as the overall Costa Book of the Year.