The Cut Out Girl - a powerful story about a young girl's struggle to survive Nazi persecution, and a man's attempt to unveil his family's secrets - by Oxford University Professor of English Literature, Bart van Es, has been named the 2018 Costa Book of the Year.
The announcement was made this evening (Tuesday 29th January) by Dominic Paul, Managing Director of Costa, at an awards ceremony held at Quaglino’s in central London.
The Cut Out Girl isthe extraordinary true story of a young Jewish girl in Holland during World War II who hides from the Nazis in the homes of an underground network of foster families, one of them the author’s grandparents.
Lien de Jong wasn't taken from her Jewish parents - she was given away in the hope that she might be saved. Hidden and raised by a foster family during the Nazi occupation, she survived the war only to find that her real parents had not. Much later, she fell out with her foster family, and Bart van Es - the grandson of Lien's foster parents - knew he needed to find out why. His account of tracing Lien and telling her story is a searing exploration of two lives and two families.
Sophie Raworth, chair of the final judges, said: “The Cut Out Girl is a unique telling of an extraordinary story. Powerful, moving, uplifting and beautifully written, this is an important book which has huge resonance today. We all felt it was the hidden gem of the year.”
Raworth chaired a final judging panel that included actor Simon Williams, writer and broadcaster Kate Humble, cook, novelist, entrepreneur and TV personality Prue Leith, RTE broadcaster Rick O’Shea, author Rachel Joyce, writer and journalist Sathnam Sanghera, writer, critic and journalist Anita Sethi and poet Mimi Khalvati.
Bart van Es beat bestselling Irish novelist Sally Rooney for her second novel, Normal People, debutauthor Stuart Turton for his first novel, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, the Scottish poet J. O. Morgan for Assurances and children’s writer Hilary McKay for The Skylarks’ War to win the overall prize and a cheque for £30,000 at the awards ceremony.
The Costa Book Awards is the only major UK book prize 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. 2018 marks the 47th year of the Book Awards.
The Cut Out Girl, published by Fig Tree, is the seventh biography to take the overall prize.Since the introduction of the Book of the Year award in 1985, it has been won twelve times by a novel, five times by a first novel, seven times by a biography, eight times by a collection of poetry and twice by a children’s book.
The last Biography to win the Costa Book of the Year was H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald which took the overall prize in 2014. The 2017 Costa Book of the Year was Inside the Wave, the final collection of poetry by Helen Dunmore, published shortly before her death.
To celebrate this year’s Costa Book Awards, Costa Coffee is creating a special podcast showcasing this year’s Awards and winning writers. Author and journalist Hannah Beckerman will be hosting the podcast that will feature interviews with this year’s category award–winning authors, final judges Rachel Joyce and Rick O’Shea, chair of the final judging panel Sophie Raworth and Bart van Es, winning author of the 2018 Costa Book of the Year.
The podcast will launch on Friday 1st February and will be available to download from Soundcloud and YouTube.
Caroline Ward Vine wins 2018 Costa Short Story Award
Also announced at the ceremony was the winner of the Costa Short Story Award. Caroline Ward Vine, a former magazine publisher and now a strategic consultant to the creative industries and education, from Kent won the public vote and £3,500 for her story, Breathing Water. Two runners-up, literacy and language specialist Sophie Wellstood from South-West London and engineer Amanda Huggins from West Yorkshire, received £1,000 and £500 respectively.
Established in 2012, this Award - run in association with the Costa Book Awards but judged independently of the main five-category system – is judged anonymously (ie without the name of the author being known throughout the process). It is for a single, previously unpublished short story of up to 4,000 words written in English by an author aged 18 years or over, and is open to both published and unpublished writers.
A shortlist of three stories was selected by a panel of judges – Sarah Franklin, Joe Haddow, Adele Parks, Simon Trewin and Kit de Waal - and then made available on the Costa Book Awards website for the public to download and vote for their favourite. Costa Managing Director, Dominic Paul, announced the winner and runners-up and presented them with their cheques.
Costa Coffee was founded in London by Italian brothers Sergio and Bruno Costa in 1971.
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Looking after coffee growers is extremely important to us, which is why we established The Costa Foundation, a registered charity with the aim 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 72 schools and improved the social and economic welfare of coffee-growing communities.