Friday, 11 February 2011
Costa Book of the Year
Poet Jo Shapcott was the surprise winner of the 2011 Costa Book of the Year for her collection of poetry entitled Of Mutability, her first new work in over a decade, influenced in part by her experience of breast cancer. Judges felt that the book was "so accessible, and the subject matter was so relevant that if any poetry book could capture the spirit of life in 2011, this would be it". They said "These strong poems are rooted in the poet's experience of breast cancer but are all about life, hope and play. Fizzing with variety, they are a paean to creativity and make the reader feel that what matters to us all is imagination, humanity and a smile." Shapcott received £35,000 on winning the award. The firm favourite in the literary world – and among the bookies – had been Edmund de Waal for his family memoir, The Hare With Amber Eyes. The five winners of the Costa category awards were eligible for the overall prize. The other three titles in the running were The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell, Witness the Night by Kishwar Desai and Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace. It is the second year in a row that a poetry book has won the overall award with Christopher Reid winning the award for A Scattering. It is the seventh time a poetry collection has taken the overall prize, which began as The Whitbread in 1971. Séamus Heaney won the award on two occasions - for his verse translation of the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf (1999) and The Spirit Level (1996).