Costa Book Awards: 2015 shortlists announced

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image captionAn illustration from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Sir John Tenniel

A thriller about an abducted child and a biography of Lewis Carroll's Alice character are among the 20 titles up for this year's Costa Book Awards.

The nominated books are divided into five categories: novel, first novel, biography, poetry and children's book.

The category winners will be announced on 4 January, with the overall book of the year revealed on 26 January.

Kate Atkinson, who won the award in 1995 when it was called the Whitbread Prize, is also in the running.

Atkinson's A God in Ruins is nominated for the novel award, alongside Anne Enright's Booker-longlisted The Green Road.

The awards are open to authors based in the UK and Ireland and are worth £3,000 to each of the five category winners.

The winner of the overall prize, awarded last January to Helen Macdonald's memoir H is for Hawk, receives £30,000.


2015 Costa Novel Award shortlist

  • Kate Atkinson for A God in Ruins (Doubleday)
  • Anne Enright The Green Road (Jonathan Cape)
  • Patrick Gale for A Place Called Winter (Tinder Press)
  • Melissa Harrison for At Hawthorn Time (Bloomsbury)

2015 Costa First Novel Award shortlist

  • Sara Baume for Spill Simmer Falter Wither (Windmill Books)
  • Kate Hamer for The Girl in the Red Coat (Faber & Faber)
  • Andrew Michael Hurley for The Loney (John Murray)
  • Tasha Kavanagh for Things We Have in Common (Canongate)

2015 Costa Biography Award shortlist

  • Robert Douglas-Fairhurst for The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland (Harvill Secker)
  • Thomas Harding for The House by the Lake (William Heinemann)
  • Ruth Scurr for John Aubrey: My Own Life (Chatto & Windus)
  • Andrea Wulf for The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science (John Murray)

2015 Costa Poetry Award shortlist

  • Andrew McMillan for Physical (Jonathan Cape)
  • Kate Miller for The Observances (Carcanet)
  • Don Paterson for 40 Sonnets (Faber & Faber)
  • Neil Rollinson for Talking Dead (Jonathan Cape)

2015 Costa Children's Book Award shortlist

  • Frances Hardinge for The Lie Tree (Macmillan Children's Books)
  • Hayley Long for Sophie Someone (Hot Key Books)
  • Sally Nicholls for An Island of Our Own (Scholastic)
  • Andrew Norriss for Jessica's Ghost (David Fickling Books)

The Girl in the Red Coat, Kate Hamer's thriller about a kidnapped young girl, is one of two thrillers in contention for the first novel award.

The other is The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley, a debut novel that had a first print run of just 300 copies.

The other first novel nominees are Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume and Things We Have in Common by Tasha Kavanagh.

The latter, a former film editor who worked on such films as Twelve Monkeys and The Talented Mr Ripley, has published several children's books under her maiden name, Tasha Pym.

Andrew McMillan, Kate Miller, Don Paterson and Neil Rollinson are the four poets shortlisted for the Costa poetry prize.

No poet has won the overall book of the year award since the late Seamus Heaney was named the recipient of the 1999 prize.

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image captionEnright was appointed the first Laureate for Irish Fiction earlier this year

The Story of Alice, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst's exploration of Lewis Carroll through the adventures of his most famous creation, is up for the biography prize.

It is shortlisted alongside books about 17th Century antiquarian John Aubrey, the Prussian explorer Alexander von Humboldt, and a house in Germany that was lived in by five different families.

Andrew Norriss, who won the 1997 Whitbread children's book award, is nominated for the Costa equivalent for his latest work, Jessica's Ghost.

He is the only male on a category shortlist completed by children's authors Frances Hardinge, Hayley Long and Sally Nicholls.

This year's nominees comprise 12 women and eight men in all, with ages ranging from 27 to 68.

"The quality and breadth of talent and writing in this year's lists is staggering," said Christopher Rogers, Costa's managing director.

Novelist Louise Doughty, writer Matt Haig and journalist Penny Junor are among the individual category judges.

Speaking on Radio 4's Front Row on Tuesday, literary critic Alex Clark tipped Enright - the first Laureate for Irish Fiction - to be overall winner of the 2015 prize.

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