Julian Barnes and Claire Tomalin were named two of 21 finalists for the Costa Book Awards, which pit authors of different genres against one another for a Book of the Year prize of 30,000 pounds ($48,000).
Sponsored by Whitbread Plc’s Costa coffee-shop chain, the contest carries prizes of 5,000 pounds apiece for winning books in five categories, including biographies, novels and poetry. The five winners then compete for the Costa Book of the Year.
Barnes made the Costa Novel Award shortlist for “The Sense of an Ending” (Cape), a slim novel about a middle-aged man who’s forced to look back on his life after receiving an unexpected bequest. The book has already won this year’s Man Booker Prize for Fiction.
The other titles on the novel shortlist are John Burnside’s “A Summer of Drowning” (Cape), Andrew Miller’s “Pure” (Sceptre) and Louisa Young’s “My Dear I Wanted to Tell You” (HarperCollins).
Tomalin’s “Charles Dickens” (Viking) is on the shortlist for the Costa Biography Award. One of her previous biographies, “Samuel Pepys,” won the overall prize when it was known as the Whitbread Book of the Year.
Other books on the biography shortlist include “Thin Paths: Journeys In and Around an Italian Mountain Village” by Julia Blackburn (Cape); “Henry’s Demons: Living With Schizophrenia” by journalist Patrick Cockburn and his son Henry (Simon & Schuster); and “Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas” by Matthew Hollis (Faber).
Costa also announced shortlists in its contests for debut novels, poetry and children’s books. Winners in the five categories will be announced on Jan. 4, 2012. The overall winner of the Costa Book of the Year will be announced at a ceremony in London on Jan. 24, 2012.
Established by Whitbread in 1971, the prizes seek to honor the most enjoyable books of the year by writers based in the U.K. and Ireland. Previous winners of the Book of the Year Award have included novelists Sebastian Barry and A.L. Kennedy.