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Costa Novel Awards announced

January 5, 2010 |  7:00 am


Colm Tóibín's "Brooklyn" captured the Costa Novel Award, defeating Hilary Mantel’s "Wolf Hall," the winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Set in Brooklyn in the 1950s, the book is, our reviewer Floyd Skloot wrote, "an intimate novel about a woman -- and a community and culture -- crippled by an inability to find or express intimacy."

Tóibín and four other authors will each receive $8,100 from Whitbread Plc’s Costa coffee shop chain, which grants annual awards for books in five genres: novel, first novel, biography, poetry and children’s literature.

Other category winners include "The Strangest Man," by debut biographer Graham Farmelo, for his life of quantum-mechanics pioneer Paul Dirac; poet Christopher Reid's "A Scattering," a tribute to his late wife; Raphael Selbourne's "Beauty" won the first novel award; and the children's book honor went to Patrick Ness for "The Ask and the Answer."

The five will now compete for the roughly $48,000  "Costa Book of the Year" prize to be awarded in London on Jan. 26.

Tóibín's previous novel, "The Master," won the 2006 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Fiction. It was also a Man Booker prize finalist.

Previously known as the Whitbreads, the Costas aim to promote contemporary British and Irish writing since their creation in 1971.

-- Liesl Bradner

Photo: Colm Toibin in 1997. Credit: Graham Barclay/ For The Times