Winning titles by Jonathan Coe, Sara Collins and Jack Fairweather

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.
 

  • Middle England

  • WINNER OF THE THE COSTA NOVEL AWARD 2019

    'The book everyone is talking about' The Times

    'A comedy for our times' Guardian
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    The country is changing and, up and down the land, cracks are appearing - within families and between generations. In the Midlands Benjamin Trotter tries to help his aged father navigate a Britain that seems to have forgotten he exists, while in London his friend Doug doesn't understand why his teenage daughter is eternally enraged. Meanwhile, newlyweds Sophie and Ian can find nothing to agree on except the fact that their marriage is on the rocks . . .

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    'Coe's back with a bang. Middle England is the novel about Brexit we need' Daily Telegraph

    'A pertinent, entertaining study of a nation in crisis' Financial Times, Books of the Year

    'Very funny. Coe - a writer of uncommon decency - reminds us that the way out of this mess is through moderation, through compromise, through that age-old English ability to laugh at ourselves' Observer

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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.’ 

  • The Confessions of Frannie Langton

  • 'Deep-diving and elegant . . . Wide Sargasso Sea meets Beloved meets Alias Grace' Margaret Atwood

    'Takes the gothic genre by the scruff of the neck...a triumph of powerful characterisation melded with suspenseful plotting' Bernadine Evaristo

    WINNER OF THE COSTA BOOK AWARDS FIRST NOVEL PRIZE 2019
    LONGLISTED FOR HWA DEBUT CROWN 2020
    WATERSTONES BOOK OF THE MONTH

    'They say I must be put to death for what happened to Madame, and they want me to confess. But how can I confess what I don't believe I've done?'

    1826, and all of London is in a frenzy. Crowds gather 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 testimonies against her are damning - slave, whore, seductress. And they may be the truth. But they are not the whole truth.

    For the first time Frannie must tell her story. It begins with a girl learning to read on a plantation in Jamaica, and it ends in a grand house in London, where a beautiful woman waits to be freed.

    But through her fevered confessions, one burning question haunts Frannie Langton: could she have murdered the only person she ever loved?

    A haunting tale about one woman's fight to tell her story, The Confessions of Frannie Langton leads you through laudanum-laced dressing rooms and dark-as-night alleys, into the heart of Georgian London.

    'A dazzling page-turner' Emma Donoghue

    'A star in the making' Sunday Times

    'Gothic fiction made brand new' Stef Penney

    'Dazzlingly original' The Times

    'A heroine for our times' Elizabeth Day

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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 Volunteer


  • 'Totally gripping'-- Simon Sebag Montefiore

    ‘Pilecki is perhaps one of the greatest unsung heroes of the second world war ... this insightful book is likely to be the definitive version of this extraordinary life’ -- Economist


    Would you sacrifice yourself to save thousands of others?


    In the Summer of 1940, after the Nazi occupation of Poland, an underground operative called Witold Pilecki accepted a mission to uncover the fate of thousands of people being interned at a new concentration camp on the border of the Reich.

    His mission was to report on Nazi crimes and raise a secret army to stage an uprising. The name of the detention centre -- Auschwitz.

    It was only after arriving at the camp that he started to discover the Nazi’s terrifying plans. Over the next two and half years, Witold forged an underground army that smuggled evidence of Nazi atrocities out of Auschwitz. His reports from the camp were to shape the Allies response to the Holocaust - yet his story was all but forgotten for decades.

    This is the first major account to draw on unpublished family papers, newly released archival documents and exclusive interviews with surviving resistance fighters to show how he brought the fight to the Nazis at the heart of their evil designs.

    The result is an enthralling story of resistance and heroism against the most horrific circumstances, and one man’s attempt to change the course of history.

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Winning the Biography category was Ebury author Jack Fairweather for his book The Volunteerwhich tells the unsung story of one of the greatest heroes of the Second World War - a gripping story of defiance, rebellion, sabotage and escape from a Nazi death camp. The Wall Street Journal described it as 'a story that has long deserved a robust, faithful telling, and he has delivered it'. 

Jamie Joseph, Editorial Director at WH Allen, and editor of The Volunteer celebrated Jack's win: ‘It’s a rare thing indeed to have a book that is a seminal, landmark addition to our understanding of the horrors of the holocaust and also such a page-turning, engrossing read. Jack has delivered the definitive story of one of the greatest heroes of the second world war and as we approach the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz later this month, we couldn’t be more delighted to see this fantastic book celebrated by this prize!’

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.

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