Costa winner Kennedy speaks out

<p>Scottish author and stand-up comedian A L Kennedy warned that &quot;we seem to be destroying our culture&quot;, when she won the 2007 Costa Book of the Year award for her fifth novel, <em>Day</em> (Cape).</p><p>Picking up the prize and a cheque for &pound;25,000 last evening (Tuesday 22nd January) at an awards ceremony held in central London, the author and stand-up comedian said that &quot;we&#39;re in danger of losing our stories . . . if we don&#39;t have libraries, independent bookshops, coverage in the media. Do we want to lose that?&quot;. </p><p>She called on the assembled audience--&quot;the most influential room I will ever play&quot;--to make sure there were &quot;libraries with books in them and bookshops with a real range&quot; and &quot;maintain cover prices&quot;. She added: &quot;I don&#39;t want to live in a country where we&#39;re destroying art&quot;. </p><p>Kennedy beat bestselling biographer Simon Sebag Montefiore for <em>Young Stalin</em>, first-time novelist Catherine O&rsquo;Flynn for <em>What Was Lost</em>, poet Jean Sprackland for <em>Tilt</em> and children&rsquo;s writer Ann Kelley for <em>The Bower Bird</em> for the overall prize.</p><p>She interrupted her American tour to fly back to the UK for 24 hours to attend the awards ceremony. The Glasgow-based author spent three years researching the book, which tells of British PoW and Lancaster tailgunner Alfred Day, trying to cope with civilian life in 1949. </p><p>Joanna Trollope, chair of the final judges, said: &quot;<em>Day</em> is an example of excellence in its category and a book ultimately to recommend. It is perfectly and beautifully written by an author who is an extraordinary stylist.&quot;</p>