The 2016 Costa Novel Award shortlist was revealed last night - featuring established names and previous Costa winners alongside exciting new emerging voices. Not only is it dominated by women (14 out of the 20 writers across five categories are female), but many have a connection to Norwich UNESCO City of Literature, proving once more that our city is firmly on the map for literary achievement and innovation.

Novel Award

Sarah Perry is a Norwich based writer who's first novel, After Me Comes the Flood, was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Folio Prize, and won the 2014 East Anglian Book of the Year Award. She has been a Writer-in-Residence at Gladstone's Library and a UNESCO World City of Literature Writer-in-Residence in Prague. She is currently part of the International Literature Showcase, a partnership between Writers' Centre Norwich and British Council, supported by Arts Council England. The Essex Serpent is her second novel.

Rose Tremain hosted a sold-out event at Norfolk & Norwich Festival for her latest book, The Gustav Sonata, in May this year - listen to the podcast here. Her novels have been published in 30 countries and have won numerous awards, including the Orange Prize (The Road Home), the Whitbread Novel Award (Music & Silence) and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (Sacred Country). She was made a CBE in 2007 and is the former Chancellor of the University of East Anglia. She lives in Norfolk and London.

First Novel Award 

Guinevere Glasfurd's first novel, The Words in My Hand, took the shape of a first full draft in 2011-12 when she was selected for WCN's annual Escalator Talent Development Programme. She said: 'Something shifted in me as I went through the year. I no longer saw my writing as a hobby, but work. Bit-by-bit, Escalator enabled me to move writing from the periphery to the centre of my life.' Since it's publication earlier in the year, The Words in My Hand has been The Times' Book of the Month and the foreign language rights have been sold in five countries outside of the UK, in addition to being published in Australia and New Zealand. Guinevere also works collaboratively with artists in the UK and South Africa and her work has been funded under the Artists' International Development Fund, (Arts Council England and the British Council). She manages the Words and Women Twitter feed.

Biography Award 

Hisham Matar's debut novel, In the Country of Men, was published in 29 languages and won numerous international prizes, in addition to being shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Guardian First Book Award. His second novel, Anatomy of a Disappearance, was published to great acclaim in 2011. The same year, Hisham visited Norwich to take part in WCN's Worlds Literature Symposium alongside A.S.Byatt, Joseph O'Connor, Tahmima Anam, and John Boyne. 

Poetry Award

Denise Riley is currently a Professor of the History of Ideas and Poetry at the University of East Anglia, and has taught philosophy, art history, poetics and creative writing. She is a critically-acclaimed writer of both philosophy and poetry. Her visiting positions have included A D White Professor at Cornell University in the US, Writer-in-Residence at the Tate Gallery in London, and Visiting Fellow at Birkbeck College in the University of London. Her latest collection, Say Something Back, was also shortlisted for the 2016 T.S.Eliot prize.


The winners of each Costa Book Award category will be announced on 3 January 2017, where they will each be awarded £5,000. Those five winners will then be considered for the Costa Book of the Year, which will see the winner awarded £30,000 at a ceremony on 31 January 2017.

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