Costa has announced the judging panels for the 2016 Costa Book Awards, which include writers Nicci Gerrard, Justin Cartwright, Mary Loudon, Andrew O’Hagan and Matthew Dennison, poet, author and vlogger Jen Campbell, and author-illustrator, Cressida Cowell.
The Costa Book Awards recognises the "most enjoyable" books across five categories: First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book.
A total of 596 books were entered for this year’s Costa Book Awards. Cowell, Children’s Book Award judge, said this year the category again seemed "incredibly strong", following Frances Hardinge's Costa Book of the Year win last year for The Lie Tree.
“Last year I was thrilled when Francis Hardinge's brilliant The Lie Tree, won both the Children's Book Award and was named overall Costa Book of the Year. This year, the entries for the children's category are incredibly strong and I know from the quality of the books I’ve been reading so far that it’s going to be extremely tough to choose a shortlist and a winner," said Cowell.
Novel Award judge, Gerrard, hinted at some of the submissions, commenting: “I read all these novels during a period when there was much discussion and even anguish about what it is to be British. What all the books show is that Britain is made up of a glorious, beautiful rabble of different voices. There have been so many stories: whaling ships and road trips, Medusas and political intrigue and murder, a foetus speaking from its mother's womb; voices coming from the grief of history, coming from the hidden present, from an undefined future; voices that help us make sense of ourselves; voices that show us different worlds and help us to understand our own.”
The judges for the Costa First Novel Award are: author Justin Cartwright, Charlotte Heathcote, literary editor for the Daily and Sunday Express; Sheryl Shurville, co-owner of Chorleywood and Gerrards Cross Bookshops.
For the Costa Novel Award, the judges are Matthew Bates, fiction buyer for WH Smith Travel, writer Nicci Gerrard and Lisa O’Kelly, literary editor for The Observer.
For the the Costa Biography Award, the judges are biographer and journalist Matthew Dennison, author Mary Loudon and author and critic Sarra Manning. For the Costa Poetry Award the judges comprise poet, author and vlogger Jen Campbell; Kate Kellaway, staff writer and poetry editor at The Observer; and novelist Andrew O’Hagan. Finally, author-illustrator Cressida Cowell, journalist Anna James, formerly of The Bookseller, and Steven Pryse, owner of Pickled Pepper Books will judge the Costa Children's Book Award.
The category shortlists will be announced on 22nd November 2016, with the winner of each category revealed on 3rd January 2017. The ultimate accolade of Costa Book of the Year will follow on at an awards ceremony in central London on 31st January 2017.
The winner of the Costa Short Story Award, a new award for a single short story run judged independently of the main five-category system by the public, will also be announced on 31st January. A shortlist of three for the public to vote on will be revealed in November.