The category winners of the Costa Book Awards 2015 have been revealed, with Kate Atkinson winning in the Novel category for the second time in three years.
Spanning five categories - first novel, novel, biography, poetry and children's book - the Costa awards celebrate "the most enjoyable books" in each category.
Atkinson has won the Costa Novel Award for the second time in three years for A God in Ruins (Doubleday). The title has been dubbed "a genius book" by the judges, who said it was "utterly magnificent and in a class of its own". Atkinson first won the award in 1995 for Behind the Scenes at the Museum (Black Swan) and again in 2013 for Life After Life (Black Swan) which was also the winner of the Sky Arts Literature Prize. The judges for this prize were novelist Louise Doughty, Goldsboro Books m.d. David Headley and The Bookseller's Cathy Rentzenbrink.
In the first novel category, Andrew Michael Hurley's The Loney (John Murray) triumphed from a shortlist including Sara Baume, Kate Hamer and Tasha Kavanagh. Hurley's "haunting" novel has been heralded "an amazing piece of fiction" by crime writer Stephen King and was described by "all" judges on the panel to be "as close to the perfect first novel as you can get". First published by small Yorkshire publishing house Tartarus Press, which initially printed just 300 copies, John Murray’s second edition of the book secured strong reviews along with a film deal. The "slow-burn gothic horror story" was inspired by the landscape and folklore of northern England, where Hurley is from, as well as the author's Catholic upbringing. Hurley, from Preston, Lancashire, previously had to fit writing around a busy teaching schedule, which he continues to do on a freelance basis.
India-born historian Andrea Wulf has claimed the Costa Biography Award for The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander Von Humboldt, The Lost Hero of Science (John Murray). The biography is about "great lost scientist" Von Humboldt, a Prussian explorer, naturalist and geographer who lived between 1769 and 1859, during which time he laid the scientific foundations for inspiring great thinkers such as Darwin. The judges called it "the thrillingly readable story of a visionary", about a man who "travelled the globe" and "foresaw the destructive impact of mankind on the world". Wulf has lectured widely and is the author of several books including The Brother Gardeners, the winner of the American Horticultural Society 2010 Book Award. She also co-presented a four-part BBC television series "British Gardens in Time".
The Costa Poetry Award went to Don Paterson for 40 Sonnets (Faber and Faber). The collection includes some "highly experimental" poems despite conforming to the traditional form of the sonnet. The judges, comprising poet and children's author Julia Corpus, critic Adam Newey and co-owner of The Poetry Bookshop in Hay-on-Wye Melanie Prince, called it a "stand-out collection". The poems' scope and tonal range - earned the collection praise from the judges as "a tour de force by a poet at the height of his powers". Paterson, who hails from Dundee, won the Whitbread Poetry Award in 2003, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and all three Forward Prizes, and is the only poet to have won the TS Eliot Prize twice.
Finally, YA and children's writer France Hardinge won the Children's Book Award for her seventh novel The Lie Tree (Macmillan Children's Books). Set in Victorian England, the plot follows teenager Faith who resolves to find out the cause and the nature of her father's scientific investigations after he dies. Oxford graduate Hardinge fought off competition from Hayley Long for Sophie Someone (Hot Key Books), Sally Nicholls for An Island of Our Own (Scholastic) and Andrew Norriss for Jessica's Ghost (David Fickling Books) to claim the children's category award.
The winners each receive £5,000, and are now eligible to compete for the title of 2015 Costa Book of the Year prize. The winner of this "ultimate prize" will be announced by presenter and broadcaster Penny Smith at a ceremony at Quaglino's, central London, on Tuesday 26th January.
The award ceremony will also reveal the winner of the public vote for best short story, with the authors of the six shortlisted stories for the award remaining anonymous. Voting is open until 13th January 2016.