The United Kingdom’s Costa Book Awards Name Five Shortlists

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

With the big ‘book of the year’ winner to be announced on February 1, the Costa Book Awards program will name its 2021 winner in 2022.

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Category Winners: Coming January 4
Restricted to authors resident in the United Kingdom and Ireland, the Costa Book Awards program is marking its 50th year and today (November 23) has named 20 authors in five categories.

These shortlists include eight debuts and authors who range in age from 27 to 68.

Winners in the five categories each are given £5,000 (US$6,686). Those winners are to be announced on January 4. An overall winner, awarded £30,000 (US$40,121), is expected to be announced on February 1.

The winner of the Costa Short Story Award, voted for by the public, is also to be announced at February’s ceremony. The three shortlisted stories for the Costa Short Story Award are to be posted to the Costa site and voted on by readers.

Shortlists in the 2021 Costa Book Awards

To be eligible for the 2021 Costa Book Awards, books must have been first published in the UK or Ireland between November 1 of last year and October 31.

Costa First Novel Award 2021 Shortlist 

  • Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson (Viking)
  • The Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore (Granta)
  • Fault Lines by Emily Itami (Phoenix)
  • The Stranding by Kate Sawyer (Coronet)

Costa Novel Award 2021 Shortlist  

  • Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller (Fig Tree)
  • The High House by Jessie Greengrass (Swift Press)
  • The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed (Viking)
  • The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak (Viking)

Costa Biography Award 2021 Shortlist 

  • Consumed: A Sister’s Story by Arifa Akbar (Sceptre)
  • The Moth and the Mountain: A True Story of Love, War and Everest by Ed Caesar (Viking)
  • Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell by John Preston (Viking)
  • Free: Coming of Age at the End of History by Lea Ypi (Allen Lane)

Costa Poetry Award 2021 Shortlist

  • All the Names Given by Raymond Antrobus (Picador)
  • A Blood Condition by Kayo Chingonyi (Chatto & Windus)
  • Eat or We Both Starve by Victoria Kennefick (Carcanet Press)
  • The Kids by Hannah Lowe (Bloodaxe Books)

Costa Children’s Book Award 2021 Shortlist 

  • Maggie Blue and the Dark World by Anna Goodall (Guppy Books)
  • The Crossing by Manjeet Mann (Penguin)
  • The Midnight Guardians by Ross Montgomery (Walker Books)
  • The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh by Helen Rutter (Scholastic UK)

The Costa Book Awards were established in 1971 as the Whitbread Book Awards. The selection of an overall book of the year was introduced in 1985. Prior to 1985, the Whitbread Literary Awards, as they were then known, recognized a number of books across a variety of categories.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Costa Book Awards is here, and more on publishing awards in general is here

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.