Irish author Sebastian Barry has won the 2008 Costa Book of the Year award for The Secret Scripture, a moving account of one woman’s stolen life and her journey to reclaim the past. The announcement was made this evening (Tuesday 27th January) at an awards ceremony held at the InterContinental Hotel in central London.
The Costa Book Awards recognise the most enjoyable books of the last year by writers based in the UK and Ireland. Originally established by Whitbread PLC in 1971, Costa announced its takeover of the sponsorship of the UK’s prestigious and popular book prize in 2006.
Barry, the bookmaker’s odds-on favourite, won against one of the most acclaimed collections of finalists in the Book Awards history beating 91 year-old author Diana Athill for her memoir Somewhere Towards the End, bestselling first-time novelist Sadie Jones for The Outcast, poet and writer Adam Foulds for The Broken Word and popular children’s writer Michelle Magorian for Just Henry, to win the overall prize and a cheque for £25,000 at the glittering awards ceremony.
Following the judging, Matthew Parris, chair of the final judges, said: ”Sebastian Barry has created one of the great narrative voices in contemporary fiction in The Secret Scripture. It is a book of great brilliance, powerfully and beautifully written.”
The Secret Scripture, published by Faber and Faber, is the ninth novel to take the overall prize. A. L. Kennedy was the last author to win the Book of the Year with a novel taking the prize in 2007 for Day.
Since the introduction of the Book of the Year award in 1985, it has been won eight times by a novel, four times by a first novel, five times by a biography, five times by a collection of poetry and once by a children’s book.