Tonight it was announced that Penguin Random House UK authors have won in three of the five categories at the 2019 Costa Book Awards. The awards, which recognise the most outstanding books of the year written by authors based in the UK and Ireland, are split into five categories - First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book. One of the five winners will then be chosen as Book of the Year later in January, winning £30,000.
Winning the sought after Best Novel category was Jonathan Coe's novel Middle England, published by Penguin General, a book which captures the comedy and tragedy of our times by exploring how Brexit has impacted people up and down the country through a vivid cast of characters. Described as ‘brilliantly funny’ by The Economist, Middle England is a ‘compelling state of the nation novel, full of light and shade, which vivdly charts modern Britain’s tragicomic slide’.
Mary Mount, Publisher at Penguin General and editor of Jonathan’s book celebrated the win: ‘At an extraordinary time in this country’s history Jonathan Coe’s Middle England is the novel we all need. This is a novel that means an enormous amount to me – a novel that is incredibly funny but is also moving and full of humanity – and all of us at Viking are utterly thrilled that Costa has made it their Novel of the Year.’
Topping the ever-impressive Best First Novel category was The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Penguin General author Sara Collins. Inspired by Sara's’ own love of gothic fiction, it is a tale about one woman’s fight to tell her story and save herself from being sentenced to death: it's 1826, and crowds have gathered at the gates of the Old Bailey to watch as Frannie Langton, maid to Mr and Mrs Benham, goes on trial for their murder. The Times hailed it as 'an impressive debut, dazzlingly original'.
Delighted at the news of her win, Sara said; 'I wrote a novel because I loved reading them and many of the writers who have inspired me have been previous winners of Costa awards (or the Whitbread, as it then was). It's therefore utterly surreal to have been awarded the prize; for Frannie to have been recognised and rewarded in the same vein as authors like Andrea Levy or Francis Spufford or Stef Penney is truly stunning and delightful.'
Katy Loftus, Publisher at Viking and Sara’s editor, shared her thoughts: ‘It’s incredibly rare to come across a debut voice as original and powerful as Sara Collins’, and I am so thrilled that the Costa Awards are celebrating the start of this exciting literary career. Frannie Langton stormed her way onto the page and into our imaginations, and I hope many more readers will hear her story this year.’
The winning authors each receive £5,000 and are now eligible for the top prize, the 2019 Costa Book of the Year, which will be announced on Tuesday 28 January.