Nine Penguin books named on the 2021 Costa Book Award shortlist

Penguin books have been recognised across the Biography, Poetry, Children's, Novel and Debut Novel categories in this year’s shortlists.

The covers of sixninePenguin books, all nominated for the Costa Prize, laid against a dusty pink background

From an intimate love story to a real-life tale of criminal injustice and remarkable biographies, from a poetry collection about trauma to a children's book about refugees, nine books published by Penguin Random House have made the shortlist for this year’s Costa Book Award.

In the Costa Biography Award, John Preston’s incendiary retelling of the life of media mogul Robert Maxwell, Fall, has been recognised, as have Ed Caesar’s The Moth and the Mountainabout Maurice Wilson, a man who scaled Everest in the Thirties with no experience of either flying or mountaineering, and Leah Ypi's memoir Free, about growing up in Albania after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

For the Costa Novel Award, Claire Fuller’s Unsettled Ground, about two reclusive, middle-aged siblings who must re-learn their lives after the death of their mother, has been shortlisted. Nadifa Mohamed’s The Fortune Men has gained its second shortlisting, after being recognised for this year’s 2021 Booker Prize. Mohamed was inspired by the real events of the execution of Mahmood Mattan, who was wrongfully convicted for murder in Cardiff in the 1950s. Elif Shafak has also been shortlisted for her novel The Island of Missing Trees, which explores an immigrant family fragmented by war and trauma.

Kayo Chingonyi's poignant poetry collection about inherited trauma, A Blood Condition, garnered a nomination in the Poetry category, while Caleb Azumah Nelson has been nominated in the First Novel category for his debut, Open Water, which tells the love story of two anonymous protagonists in modern-day South London.

Finally, Manjeet Mann's touching YA tale of a friendship between a young girl from Dover and a refugee boy from Eritrea, The Crossing, has been included in the Chldren's Book Award shortlist. 

The Costa Book Awards are in their 50th year and are unique in celebrating five literary categories: First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book. One of the five winning books from each category will then be chosen for the overall Costa Book of the Year.

The category winners will be announced on Tuesday, January 4, while the Costa Book of the Year will be announced on Tuesday, January 1.

In 2020, Monique Roffey won the Costa Book of the Year award for her novel, The Mermaid of the Black Conch.

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