Skip to main content

Costa Book Awards 2013 Category Winners Announced

Press release   •   Jan 07, 2014 08:32 GMT

*Two former winners triumph again this year: 1995 Book of the Year winner Kate Atkinson takes the Costa Novel Award for Life After Life, and Michael Symmons Roberts (2004 Poetry Award) wins the poetry category with Drysalter

* First-time writer and mental health nurse Nathan Filer scoops the Costa First Novel Award for The Shock of the Fall

* Lucy Hughes-Hallett collects the Costa Biography Award for her multi-award-winning book,The Pike

* Author and political cartoonist Chris Riddell takes the Costa Children’s Book Award for Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse


Costa Coffee today announces the Costa Book Awards 2013 winners in the Novel, First Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book categories.

The Costa Book Awards is the only major UK book prize that is open solely to authors resident in the UK and Ireland and also, uniquely, recognises the most enjoyable books across five categories – First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book - published in the last year.

Originally established in 1971 by Whitbread Plc, Costa announced its takeover of the sponsorship of the UK's most prestigious book prize in 2006. 2013 marks the 42nd year of the Book Awards.

The five winning authors who will now compete for the 2013 Costa Book of the Year are:

- Kate Atkinson, who takes the Costa Novel Award for her eighth novel, Life After Life, 20 years after winning the Whitbread Book of the Year for her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum

- Writer, lecturer and mental health nurse Nathan Filer wins the Costa First Novel Award for The Shock of the Fall - the story of Matthew and his descent into madness as he confronts his role in the boyhood death of his older brother

- Fresh from winning the 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize, biographer Lucy Hughes-Hallett now takes the Costa Biography Award for The Pike, an account of the life of Gabriele D’Annunzio, poet, daredevil and one of the early precursors of Fascism

- Poet Michael Symmons Roberts wins the Poetry Award for the second time with his sixth collection, Drysalter

- Author, illustrator and political cartoonist Chris Riddell wins the Costa Children’s Book Award for Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse which the judges called ‘an instant classic for children of all ages’

“Our judges have selected five superb books that readers of all tastes are going to really enjoy,” said Christopher Rogers, Managing Director of Costa. “Many congratulations to all of this year’s category Award-winning authors. Selecting just one of these terrific titles for the Costa Book of the Year will be a tough task but it will certainly make for an exciting awards ceremony later this month.”

The five Costa Book Award winners, each of whom will receive £5,000, were selected from 617 entries and the books are now eligible for the ultimate prize - the 2013 Costa Book of the Year.

The winner, selected by a panel of judges chaired by Rose Tremain CBE, and comprising authors and category judges John Burnside, Matt Cain, Anne de Courcy, Emma Kennedy and Gerard Woodward joined by Natascha McElhone, Richard Osman and Sharleen Spiteri will be announced at an awards ceremony hosted by presenter and broadcaster Penny Smith at Quaglino’s in central London on Tuesday 28th January 2014.

Since the introduction of the Book of the Year award in 1985, it has been won eleven times by a novel, four times by a first novel, five times by a biography, seven times by a collection of poetry and once by a children’s book. The 2012 Costa Book of the Year was Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel.

The winner of the Costa Short Story Award – voted for by the general public and now in its second year - will also be announced at the awards ceremony. Voting is open until Friday 17th January until which time the identity of the authors remains anonymous.

For additional information go to

Full details of the Category Award Winners follow.

- ends-

For further press information, images or to arrange an interview with any of the winning authors, please contact:

Amanda Johnson
Costa Book Awards Press and Publicity

Telephone: 07715 922180 (mobile)



2013 Costa Book Award Winners

Costa Novel Award - Life After Life - Kate Atkinson

Costa First Novel Award- The Shock of the Fall - Nathan Filer

Costa Biography Award - The Pike: Gabriele D’Annunzio, Poet, Seducer & Preacher of War - Lucy Hughes-Hallett

Costa Poetry Award - Drysalter - Michael Symmons-Roberts

Costa Children’s Book Award - Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse - Chris Riddell


Costa 2013 Novel Award

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson


About the book:

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath. During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale. What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact, an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

About the author:

Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year Award in 1995 and she has been a critically-acclaimed international bestselling author ever since. She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet and Emotionally Weird. Case Histories introduced her readers to Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, and won various awards including the Saltire Book of the Year Award. Starring Jason Isaacs as Jackson Brodie, Case Histories was dramatised for television in 2011 and received a TV Dagger at the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards. A second series starring stand-up comic and writer Victoria Wood was broadcast on BBC One in 2013. When Will There Be Good News? was voted Richard & Judy Book Best Read of the Year. It was her third novel to feature the former private detective Jackson Brodie, who also made a welcome return in Started Early, Took My Dog. Life After Life was shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction and won the Good Reads award for historical fiction in 2013.

Kate was awarded an MBE in the Queen's 2011 Birthday Honours for services to literature.

What the judges said:

“Astonishing – this book does everything you could ask for in a work of fiction and so much more.”


Clemency Burton-Hill Broadcaster and Author

Eithne Farry Reviewer, Critic and Author; Books Editor, Marie Claire

Gerard Woodward Author and Professor of Fiction at Bath Spa University


Shortlist, selected from a total of 163 entries:

Bernardine Bishop Unexpected Lessons in Love John Murray

Maggie O’Farrell Instructions for a Heatwave Tinder Press

Evie Wyld All the Birds, Singing Jonathan Cape


Previous Novel Award winners include:

Hilary Mantel Bring Up the Bodies 2012

Andrew Miller Pure 2011

Maggie O’Farrell The Hand That First Held Mine 2010

Colm Toibin Brooklyn 2009

Sebastian Barry The Secret Scripture 2008

A.L. Kennedy Day 2007

William Boyd Restless 2006

Ali Smith The Accidental 2005

Andrea Levy Small Island 2004

Mark Haddon The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 2003

2013 Costa First Novel Award

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer


About the book:

The Shock of the Fall tells the story of Matthew and Simon, two brothers who are separated yet united by a tragic accident. Exploring themes of loss, grief and mental illness, this extraordinary novel transports the reader directly into the mind of Matthew and his slow descent into madness as he confronts his role in the boyhood death of his older brother ten years ago.

About the author:

Nathan Filer, 32, is a writer and lecturer in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. He is a qualified mental health nurse and for many years worked for the mental health service in Bristol where he still lives.

The Shock of the Fall was subject to an eleven-way auction and bought by HarperCollins for a substantial six figure sum. It was selected for BBC Radio 2 Bookclub and a Specsavers National Book Award. It will be published in paperback in January 2014 by The Borough Press and will also be published in twelve other countries, including Israel (from where he was once deported for reasons of national security).

His stand-up poetry has been a regular fixture at festivals and spoken-word events across the UK, including Latitude, Port Eliot, and Wilderness. It has been broadcast on BBC 3 and BBC Radio 4, 7 and 5 Live.

He has also appeared at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and Hay Festival. His 2005 comedy short film Oedipus won the BBC Best New Filmmaker Award and numerous other prizes, including Berlin’s Zebra Poetry Film Award and the Audience Choice Award at Toronto’s World of Comedy Film Festival.

What the judges said:

“It’s hard to believe this is a first novel – it’s so good it will make you feel a better person.”


Rachael Beale Web Manager, London Review of Books

Fanny Blake Novelist, Journalist and Books Editor of Woman & Home

Matt Cain Writer and Broadcaster


Shortlist, selected from a total of 108 entries:

Sam Byers Idiopathy Fourth Estate

Kate Clanchy Meeting the English Picador

Sathnam Sanghera Marriage Material William Heinemann


Previous First Novel Award winners include:

Francesca Segal The Innocents 2012

Christie Watson Tiny Sunbirds Far Away 2011

Kishwar Desai Witness the Night 2010

Raphael Selbourne Beauty 2009

Sadie Jones The Outcast 2008

Catherine O’Flynn What Was Lost 2007

Stef Penney The Tenderness of Wolves 2006

Tash Aw The Harmony Silk Factory 2005

Susan Fletcher Eve Green 2004

DBC Pierre Vernon God Little 2003

2013 Costa Biography Award

The Pike: Gabriele D’Annunzio, Poet, Seducer & Preacher of War by Lucy Hughes-Hallett

Fourth Estate

About the book:

In September 1919 Gabriele D’Annunzio, successful poet, dramatist and occasional politician with an innate flair for the melodramatic, declared himself the Commandante of the city of Fiume in modern day Croatia. He intended to establish the utopian modern state upon his muddled fascist and artistic ideals and create a social paradigm for the rest of the world. It was a fittingly dramatic pinnacle to a career that had been essentially theatrical.

About the author:

Lucy Hughes-Hallett is an award-winning cultural historian, biographer and critic. The Pike has won the Samuel Johnson Prize and it was chosen as Book of the Year by more critics than any other book in 2013.

She began her career as a feature writer on Vogue, after having won the Vogue Talent Contest, and subsequently won the Catherine Pakenham Award for young female journalists. She was the Evening Standard’s television critic for five years and she has written on books or theatre for most of the leading British broadsheet newspapers.

She has judged a number of literary prizes, including the Costa Children’s Book Award, and, most recently, the Duff Cooper Award. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Lucy’s previous books are Heroes: A History of Hero Worship (2004) and Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams, and Distortions (1990 - winner of the Fawcett Prize and the Emily Toth Award).

She is married with two daughters, and divides her time between London and Suffolk.

What the judges said:

“An unexpectedly seductive biography which brilliantly transports the reader into the mind of a monstrous talent who was at the heart of Europe’s dark past.”


Anne de Courcy Author

Paul Ross Broadcaster and Journalist

Caroline Sanderson Author, Reviewer and Non-Fiction Editor of The Bookseller


Shortlist, selected from a total of 101 entries:

Gavin Francis Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence & Emperor Penguins Chatto & Windus

Thomas Harding Hanns and Rudolf: The Geman Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz William Heinemann

Olivia Laing The Trip to Echo Spring: Why Writers Drink Canongate


Previous Biography Award winners include:

Mary and Bryan Talbot The Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes 2012

Matthew Hollis Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Year’s of Edward Thomas 2011

Edmund de Waal The Hare with Amber Eyes 2010

Graham Farmelo The Strangest Man 2009

Diana Athill Somewhere Towards the End 2008

Simon Sebag Montefiore Young Stalin 2007

Brian Thompson Keeping Mum 2006

Hilary Spurling Matisse: the Master 2005

John Guy My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots 2004

DJ Taylor Orwell: The Life 2003

2013 Costa Poetry Award

Drysalter by Michael Symmons Roberts

Jonathan Cape

About the book:

Michael Symmons Roberts’s sixth – and most ambitious – collection to date takes its name from the ancient trade in powders, chemicals, salts and dyes, paints and cures. These poems offer a similarly potent and sensory multiplicity, unified through the formal constraint of 150 poems of 15 lines. Like the medieval psalters echoed in its title, this collection contains both the sacred and profane. Here are hymns of praise and lamentation, songs of wonder and despair, journeying effortlessly through physical and metaphysical landscapes, from financial markets and urban sprawl to deserts and dark nights of the soul.

About the author:

Michael Symmons Roberts was born in 1963 in Preston, Lancashire. His poetry has won the Forward Prize, the Whitbread Poetry Award (2004), and been shortlisted for the Griffin International Poetry Prize, and the T.S. Eliot Prize. He has received major awards from the Arts Council and the Society of Authors. His continuing collaboration with composer James MacMillan has led to two BBC Proms choral commissions, song cycles, music theatre works and operas for the Royal Opera House, Scottish Opera, Boston Lyric Opera and Welsh National Opera. Their WNO commission – ‘The Sacrifice’ – won the RPS Award for opera, and their Royal Opera House/Scottish Opera commission - 'Clemency' - was nominated for an Olivier Award. His broadcast work includes ‘A Fearful Symmetry’ - for Radio 4 - which won the Sandford St Martin Prize, and ‘Last Words’ commissioned by Radio 4 to mark the first anniversary of 9/11. He has published two novels, Patrick’s Alphabet and Breath, and a non-fiction book Edgelands (with Paul Farley) and is Professor of Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University.

What the judges said:

“Contemporary life filtered through the form of common prayer with a musicality sustained across a memorable body of work.”


John Burnside Writer

Olivia Cole Poet and Journalist

Daniel Eltringham Poetry Buyer, Dulwich Books


Shortlist, selected from a total of 94 entries:

Clive James Dante, The Divine Comedy Picador

Helen Mort Division Street Chatto & Windus

Robin Robertson Hill of Doors Picador


Previous Poetry Award winners include:

Kathleen Jamie The Overhaul 2012

Carol Ann Duffy The Bees 2011

Jo Shapcott Of Mutability 2010

Christopher Reid A Scattering 2009

Adam Foulds The Broken Word 2008

Jean Sprackland Tilt 2007

John Haynes Letter to Patience 2006

Christopher Logue Cold Calls 2005

Michael Symmons Roberts Corpus 2004

Don Paterson Landing Light 2003

2013 Costa Children’s Book Award

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell

Macmillan Children’s Books

About the book:

Meet Ada Goth. She lives in Ghastly-Gorm Hall with her father, Lord Goth, lots of servants and at least half a dozen ghosts, but she hasn’t got any friends to explore her enormous, creepy house with. Then, one night, everything changes when Ada meets a ghostly mouse called Ishmael. Together they set out to solve the mystery of the strange happenings at Ghastly-Gorm Hall, and get a lot more than they bargained for....

About the author:

Chris Riddell is an award-winning author and illustrator. Chris has illustrated many picture books and was awarded the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal in 2002 for Pirate Diary and also in 2004 for Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver.

He has won five Nestlé awards including a silver award in the five and under category of the Nestle Children’s Book Prize and a gold award in the 6-8 category of the same award.

His picture books include The Emperor of Absurdia, Wendel’s Workshop and a much-loved graphic novel series featuring Ottoline. He collaborates with Paul Stewart on three series of books for the YA market (Edge Chronicles, The Immortals and Wyrmweald) and, for younger children, his Fergus Crane adventure series, again written by Paul Stewart, has achieved critical success, winning the Smarties Gold Award.

Chris and Paul are also the creators of Muddle Earth and Muddle Earth Too, which have been adapted for a major animated series on CBBC.

Chris is also a renowned political cartoonist whose work appears regularly in The Observer, The Literary Review and The New Statesman. One of his claims to fame is that he was the first cartoonist to depict William Hague in shorts, an illustration that William Hague subsequently bought!

Chris Riddell lives in Brighton with his wife and has three grown-up children.


What the judges said:

“An instant classic for children of all ages.”



Jo Anne Cocadiz Children’s Book Buyer, Foyles

Emma Kennedy Author, Columnist and Scriptwriter

Philip Womack Author and Critic


Shortlist, selected from a total of 151 entries: Ross Montgomery Alex, the Dog and the Unopenable Door Faber and Faber

Sarah Naughton The Hanged Man Rises Simon and Schuster

Elizabeth Wein Rose Under Fire Electric Monkey


Previous Children’s Book Award winners include:

Sally Gardner Maggot Moon 2012

Moira Young Blood Red Road 2011

Jason Wallace Out of Shadows 2010

Patrick Ness The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking, Book Two) 2009

Michelle Magorian Just Henry 2008

Ann Kelley The Bower Bird 2007

Linda Newbery Set in Stone 2006

Kate Thompson The New Policeman 2005

Geraldine McCaughrean Not the End of the World 2004

David Almond The Fire-Eaters 2003


Notes for Editors:

About the Costa Book Awards:

The Costa Book Awards, formerly the Whitbread Book Awards, were established in 1971 to encourage, promote and celebrate the best contemporary British writing.

The total prize fund for the Costa Book Awards – including the Costa Short Story Award - stands at £60,000.

The award winners from the five categories - Novel, First Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book - each receive £5,000.

The overall Costa Book of the Year is selected from the five Category Award Winners with the winner receiving a further £30,000.

The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony in central London on 28th January, 2014.

To be eligible for the 2013 awards, books must have been first published in the UK or Ireland between 1 November 2012 and 31 October 2013.

The 2012 Costa Book of the Year was Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate).

Costa is the UK’s favourite coffee shop, having been awarded “Best Branded Coffee Shop Chain in the UK and Ireland" by Allegra Strategies for three years running (2010, 2011 & November 2012).

Winner of “Best Branded Coffee Chain in Europe” Allegra Strategies 2011 and 2012.

With over 1,600 coffee shops in the UK and more than 1,000 overseas, Costa is the fastest growing coffee shop business in the UK and the second largest coffee shop operator in the world.  Founded in London by Italian brothers Sergio and Bruno Costa in 1971, Costa has become the UK’s favourite coffee shop chain and has recently diversified into both the at-home and gourmet self-serve markets.

Costa is committed to looking after coffee-growers. That's why we've established The Costa Foundation, a registered charity. The Costa Foundation's aims are to relieve poverty, advance education and the health and environment of coffee-growing communities around the world. So far, The Costa Foundation has funded the building of 42 schools and improved the social and economic welfare of coffee-growing communities.