Costa Book Awards 2020: five category winners announced ahead of final result

One of these five will be crowned Costa Book of the Year 2020

Lifestyle shot of a costa coffee cup and a stack of the Costa Book Awards 2020 category winners
(Image credit: Miles Willis)

Costa Coffee have announced five outstanding Costa Book Awards 2020 winners in the First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book categories. The Costa Book Awards are unique for being the only major UK book prize open solely to authors resident in the UK and Ireland and which recognises some of the most enjoyable books across five categories published over the last year. 

The Costa Book Awards entered their 49th year in 2020 and the competition is still on for the ultimate prize - the 2020 Costa Book of the Year. Each of the five category winners will receive £5,000 and were selected from 708 entries. 

Their wonderful books are now eligible for the overall prize and the winner will be announced on Tuesday 26th January.

Who are the Costa Book Awards 2020 category winners?

Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud 

Cover of Love After Love

(Image credit: Miles Willis)

Award-winning short story writer Ingrid Persaud scoops the Costa First Novel Award for her debut novel. Set in Trinidad, Love After Love, follows Betty Ramdin, her shy son Solo and their lodger Mr Chetan who build a loving home together. Until, that is, a terrible truth comes to light drives them apart. The judges called her work: “An exuberant, outstanding novel, teeming with life, full of unforgettable characters and written with such brio and style”.


The Mermaid of Black Conch: A Love Story by Monique Roffey

Cover of The Mermaid of Black Conch

(Image credit: Miles Willis)

Writer and memoirist Monique Roffey has won her first major UK literary prize for her seventh book, The Mermaid of Black Conch: A Love Story, which was named the winner in the Costa Novel Award category. The book is a dark love story between fisherman David and mermaid Aycayia. Speaking of her brilliant novel, the judges said: “The Mermaid is a story of rare imagination and exciting scale - an adventure and a fable, a glorious myth that tells a far bigger story.”


The Louder I Will Sing by Lee Lawrence 

Cover of The Louder I Will Sing

(Image credit: Miles Willis)

Lee Lawrence, debut writer and son of Cherry Groce who was wrongly shot by police during a raid on her Brixton home, has won the Costa Biography Award for his memoir, The Louder I Will Sing: A story of racism, riots and redemption. This powerful memoir is a story of growing up in modern Britain as a young black man, underlying racism and also the positive power that hope, faith and love can bring in response. The judges remarked that “this moving account of one family's quest for justice is acutely timely and exceptionally important - a revelatory book and a terrific story.” 


The Historians by Eavan Boland

cover of The Historians

(Image credit: Miles Willis)

The late Eavan Boland was one of the foremost female voices in Irish literature and has posthumously won the Costa Poetry Award with her final collection, The Historians. This collection is the culmination of her signature themes. It explores the ways in which the hidden, sometimes all-but-erased stories of women’s lives can powerfully revise our sense of the past. The judges described it as: "An extraordinary book of lyrical power that has some of the finest lines of poetry written this century". 


Voyage of the Sparrowhawk by Natasha Farrant

Cover of Voyage of the Sparrowhawk

(Image credit: Miles Willis)

Writer and literary scout Natasha Farrant has won the Costa Children’s Book Award with her 12th book, Voyage of the Sparrowhawk. Voyage of the Sparrowhawk follows an epic voyage from England to France in the aftermath of WW1 as two children Ben and Lotti find themselves on a journey of a lifetime in search of lost loved ones and a place to call home. The judges called it “pure heavenly escapism” and said "We loved everything about this remarkable, special, delightful book”. 


Who are the judges of the 2020 Costa Book of the Year prize?

The 2020 Costa Book of the Year winner will be selected by a panel of judges chaired by historian, author and broadcaster Professor Suzannah Lipscomb, as well as category judges Jill Dawson, Sadie Jones, Horatio Clare, Zaffar Kunial and Patrice Lawrence. 

They will be joined by actor and writer Stephen Mangan, television and radio presenter Angellica Bell and presenter and book vlogger Simon Savidge. The overall winner will be announced at a virtual awards ceremony hosted by presenter and broadcaster Penny Smith on Tuesday 26th January 2021.

Of the category winners, Jill McDonald, CEO of Costa Coffee, said: “Five outstanding books and five very worthy Award winners – what a wonderful way to start the year”.

She continued: “The Costa Book Awards are all about recognising great writing and a good read and we’re very proud to be announcing such a brilliant collection of books for readers to explore and enjoy.”

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!