There are five categories in all, the others being poetry, biography, first novel and children’s. Each category winner receives £5,000.
De Bernieres has been nominated for his book, A Partisan’s Daughter, which judges described as “an elegant love story about the lies we tell ourselves and why we have to”.
The Other Hand by Chris Cleave tells the story of three young characters, including Little Bee, a 16-year-old refugee from Nigeria, and how their lives intertwine. The book was inspired by the author’s early childhood in West Africa and a visit to a detention centre in Essex.
Trauma by Patrick McGrath is described as a “riveting read”
And Sebastian Barry’s The Secret Scripture is about an elderly character approaching her 100th birthday.
The overall winner receives £25,000 and will be announced on 27 January, 2009.
Personally I was delighted to see Man Booker longlisted and CWA Dagger winner Tom Rob Smith shortlisted for Best First Novel.
Best Novel Award
- Sebastian Barry, The Secret Scripture
- Chris Cleave, The Other Hand
- Louis de Bernieres, A Partisan’s Daughter
- Patrick McGrath, Trauma
First Novel Award
- Poppy Adams, The Behaviour of Moths
- Sadie Jones, The Outcast
- Jennie Rooney, Inside the Whale
- Tom Rob Smith, Child 44
- Diana Athill, Somewhere Towards the End
- Judith Mackrell, Bloomsbury Ballerina
- Sathnam Sanghera, If You Don’t Know Me By Now
- Jackie Wullschlager, Chagall
- Ciaran Carson, For All We Know
- Adam Foulds, The Broken Word
- Kathryn Simmonds, Sunday at the Skin Launderette
- Greta Stoddart, Salvation Jane
- Keith Gray, Ostrich Boys
- Saci Lloyd, The Carbon Diaries 2015
- Michelle Magorian, Just Henry
- Jenny Valentine, Broken Soup
While The Guardian’s coverage includes asking some of the shortlisted authors what they would do with the money. (Charity, says Tom Rob Smith. Lollipops for his children says Sebastian Barry.)
The Costa judges whittled 616 submissions down to 25 books. Known as the Whitbread before it was taken over by the coffee chain in 2006, the competition is unique in bringing together adult and children’s fiction as well as biography and poetry.
The overall winner will be announced in January and will receive £25,000.
The youngest contender is the Liverpool-born Jennie Rooney, a 28-year-old lawyer who completed her first novel Inside the Whale during lunch breaks from her legal practice. She will find herself competing in the first-novel category against Sadie Jones, daughter of a Jamaican poet, Evan Jones. Sadie Jones’s debut, The Outcast, set in post-war suburban England, has already been shortlisted for the all-female Orange Prize. The only man to make it on to the first-novel shortlist is a former screen writer, Tom Rob Smith, whose Stalinist-era Child 44 was described as “unputdownable”.
This year’s judges include the author Lisa Jewell; the actress and writer Pauline McLynn; the journalist and broadcaster Michael Buerk; the poet Roger McGough; and the writer Victoria Hislop. A final panel of judges, to include a member of the book-reading public, will be announced next month.