Rooney scores again
This week Irish author Sally Rooney continued her run of success by bagging the Costa novel award for Normal People. With only her second book, she becomes the youngest winner of the prize: an extraordinary accolade, but one for which my fellow judges and I were in unanimous agreement. The Costas set out to reward enjoyable books, and Rooney’s brilliantly fresh story of two young people finding and losing each other in an uncertain world has delighted readers and critics alike.
Rooney is now the highest-profile contender as the five category winners are weighed against each other for the book of the year award. Stuart Turton took the first novel prize for his mind-bending, time-travelling country house crime debut The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. (Turton writes about growing up in Widnes on page 35.)
The biography award went to Bart van Es’s The Cut Out Girl, in which he uncovers the life story of a young Jewish girl who was sheltered from the Nazis by his Dutch grandparents. Hilary McKay won the children’s award for the second time, for The Skylarks’ War, about a family during the first world war, while the poetry prize went to JO Morgan for his long poem on the effects of the cold war, Assurances. The overall winner will be announced on 29 January.