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Last Updated: Monday, 10 December 2007, 15:01 GMT
Blur star leads Costa book panel
Alex James
Former Blur bass player Alex James is now a farmer
Blur star Alex James and BBC news presenter Emily Maitlis have been named final judges for the 2007 Costa Book Awards, formerly the Whitbread Prize.

Bestselling author Joanna Trollope will chair the panel with actress Helen Lederer and Dylan Jones of GQ magazine also taking part in the deliberations.

The shortlist of nominees in the five categories was announced in November.

The recipients of the individual awards will be announced on 3 January, with an overall winner named on 22 January.

Enjoyable books

Female writers figure prominently in the nominations - with the first novel shortlist composed entirely of women.

The winner in each category receives 5,000 but the main prize is a further 25,000.

The award recognises the most enjoyable books of the last year by writers based in the UK and Ireland.

Emily Maitlis
Emily Maitlis presents Newsnight and BBC News 24

"This prize, in its various incarnations, has always been my favourite by a very long way," said Trollope.

"It's about the sheer - and vital - pleasure of reading, rather than anything more arcane," she added.

Journalist and broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, herself a final judge in 2004, will present the event for the second year in a row.

Former final judges have included model Erin O'Connor, actor Hugh Grant and TV presenter Jonathan Ross.

Last year author Stef Penney won the award for her debut novel, the Tenderness of Wolves.

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