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Pure takes Costa after judging 'wrangle'
25.01.12 | Katie Allen and Benedicte Page
Andrew Miller has won the £30,000 2011 Costa Book of the Year for his sixth novel Pure (Sceptre), set in 18th-century Paris, as the annual award announced a new short story category for next year.
Miller triumphed over bookies' favourite Matthew Hollis' biography category-winner Now All Roads Lead to France (Faber) at a ceremony in London last night (24th January). Pure also beat poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy's The Bees (Picador); Christie Watson's debut novel Tiny Sunbirds Far Away (Quercus); and debut children's author Moira Young's Blood Red Road (Marion Lloyd Books). The category winners were each awarded £5,000 in December.
Chair of the final judging panel Geordie Greig said: “Pure is a rich and evocative historical novel which engrosses with its vivid portrait of pre-revolutionary France," describing the novel as a "memorable gothic tale of morality and mortality". However he was frank about a "forceful wrangle" among the judges, with many of the panel backing Hollis' biography of poet Edward Thomas for the prize. "The decision did not happen seamlessly and unanimously," he acknowledged, describing Hollis' book as "an incredibly subtle and brilliant biography".
Miller thanked agent Simon Trewin and Sceptre publisher Carole Welch, whom he called "the best editor in London".
Pure is already the bestselling title of the Costa category winners, having sold 7,768 copies since its win in December, according to Nielsen BookScan. Sales rocketed 2,350% over the past month thanks to its win and the release of its mass-market edition tying into the book's selection for the Waterstones Book Club. The next bestselling title is Tiny Sunbirds Far Away, which has sold 3,286 copies since the win in December.
The new Costa Short Story Award will run in association with the Costa Book Awards: Novel, First Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children's Book, but will not be judged alongside them for the overall Book of the Year prize. The competition will be launched later this year.