Burton and Halls join Costa Book Awards judges

Burton and Halls join Costa Book Awards judges

Novelist Jessie Burton and children's book author Smriti Halls (pictured) are among the judges confirmed for the 2021 Costa Book Awards, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

Other judges announced today (1st September) include novelist, memoirist and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo, poets Rishi Dastidar and Ian Duhig, podcaster Manveen Rana, journalist Sarah Shaffi and booksellers from Waterstones, Blackwell’s, the Book Hive and the Little Ripon Bookshop.

A record-breaking total of 934 books were entered for this year’s awards, an increase of more than 30% on last year’s figure and the highest number of entries received in one year since they were established in 1971 by Whitbread, organisers said.

Judging the First Novel award will be Dymphna Flynn, audio producer and books journalist, Guo and Joe Hedinger, a bookseller at the Book Hive. Burton will judge the Costa Novel award, alongside Blackwell's bookseller Charlie Bush and Shaffi. 

The Costa Biography award will be decided by Jonathan Green, senior retail manager at Waterstones, Manveen Rana, host of the "Stories of Our Times" podcast, and Andrew Wilson, novelist, biographer and journalist. The Costa Poetry award will be judged by Dastidar, Duhig and critic Maya Jaggi.

On the panel for the Children's Book award are independent bookshop owner Gill Edwards, of the Little Ripon Bookshop, Halls and Lucas Maxwell, school librarian, writer and podcaster. 

The winner of each category wins £5,000. One of the five books is selected as the overall winner of the Book of the Year, and goes on to receive £30,000, to be announced at a ceremony in January or early February 2022. The top prize last year was won by Monique Roffey for The Mermaid of Black Conch (Peepal Tree Press). 

In 2012, Costa Coffee launched the Costa Short Story Award, a new award for a single short story, run in association with the Costa Book Awards but judged independently of the main five-category system. The award is for a single, previously unpublished short story of up to 4,000 words by an author aged 18 years or over and written in English.

A panel of five judges will select a shortlist of three entries which will be revealed in December. The public will then be invited to vote online for their favourite story from the three finalists. The two runners-up and winner will be announced at the  ceremony.