Eavan Boland secures posthumous Costa Book Awards nomination

Eavan Boland with the front cover of her book The Historian, © PA Media

Poet Eavan Boland has received a posthumous nomination on the Costa Book Awards shortlist.

The awards, the only major UK book prize open solely to authors living in the UK and Ireland, celebrates books in five categories: first novel, novel, biography, poetry and children’s book.

Boland, who died from a stroke aged 75 in April, is nominated in the poetry category for her final collection, The Historians.

(Costa Book Awards/PA)

It is the third posthumous collection to be nominated in the prize’s history, after Ted Hughes’ Birthday Letters and Helen Dunmore’s Inside The Wave.

Boland is joined on the list by two debut writers, Rachel Long and Martha Sprackland, and by  Caroline Bird, an official poet of the 2012 London Olympics.

Twenty authors have been nominated across the five categories, selected from a record 708 entries by a panel including author Horatio Clare, journalist Poorna Bell and YouTuber Eric Karl Anderson.

Caroline Bird with the front cover of her book The Air Year (Costa/PA)

The list features 10 debuts, four previously shortlisted authors, two all-female category shortlists and authors ranging in age from 28 to 74.

Susanna Clarke is nominated in the novel shortlist for her second book in only 16 years, Piranesi, following the success of her debut, 2004’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

She is up against The Mermaid Of Black Conch: A Love Story by Trinidadian-born writer Monique Roffey, co-founder of the climate change group Writers Rebel.


The first novel category features Big Girl, Small Town, a comedic portrait of the Troubles from Northern Irish author Michelle Gallen, and The Family Tree, a British Muslim family saga from Sairish Hussain.

Jill McDonald, chief executive of Costa Coffee, said: “These lists represent everything the Costa Book Awards celebrate – here are 20 brilliant books to read, enjoy, recommend and share.

“Thank you to the judges for their time and dedication in producing such outstanding lists in this most unusual year.

“And congratulations to the authors who have made it on to the shortlists from such an enormous number of entries. There is truly something for everyone here.”

Winners in the five categories, who each receive £5,000 (€5,600), will be announced on January 4th, 2021.

The overall winner of the 2020 Costa Book of the Year will receive £30,000 (€33,600) and be announced at a virtual ceremony on January 26th, 2021.

The Volunteer by Jack Fairweather was named Book of the Year in 2019.


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