Page last updated at 21:14 GMT, Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Male writers dominate Costa award

Chris Cleave, Sebastian Barry, Patrick McGrath and Louis de Bernieres' book sleeves

Male writers dominate this year's shortlist for the main prize at this year's Costa Book Awards.

Chris Cleave, Sebastian Barry, Patrick McGrath and Louis de Bernieres - best known for Captain Corelli's Mandolin - will compete for the best novel prize.

There are five categories in all, the others being poetry, biography, first novel and children's. Each category winner receives 5,000.

The overall winner receives 25,000 and will be announced on 27 January, 2009.

De Bernieres has been nominated for his book, A Partisan's Daughter, which judges described as "an elegant love story about the lies we tell ourselves and why we have to".

The Other Hand by Chris Cleave tells the story of three young characters, including Little Bee, a 16-year-old refugee from Nigeria, and how their lives intertwine.

Costa Book Awards montage

The book was inspired by the author's early childhood in West Africa and a visit to a detention centre in Essex.

Trauma by Patrick McGrath is described as a "riveting read" and Sebastian Barry's The Secret Scripture is about an elderly character approaching her 100th birthday.

This year's awards attracted 616 entries - the highest-ever number of submissions in one year.

To be eligible for the prize, a book must have been first published in the UK or Ireland between 1 November, 2007 and 31 October, 2008.

Judges on this year's panels include author Lisa Jewell and broadcaster Michael Buerk.

Scottish author and stand-up comic AL Kennedy won last year's award with her novel Day.

Books shortlisted in the other categories are:

First Novel Award
Poppy Adams - The Behaviour of Moths
Sadie Jones - The Outcast
Jennie Rooney - Inside the Whale
Tom Rob Smith - Child 44

Biography Award
Diana Athill - Somewhere Towards the End
Judith Mackrell - Bloomsbury Ballerina
Sathnam Sanghera - If You Don't Know Me By Now
Jackie Wullschlager - Chagall

Costa Poetry Award
Ciaran Carson - For All We Know
Adam Foulds - The Broken Word
Kathryn Simmonds - Sunday at the Skin Launderette
Greta Stoddart - Salvation Jane

Children's Book Award
Keith Gray - Ostrich Boys
Saci Lloyd - The Carbon Diaries 2015
Michelle Magorian - Just Henry
Jenny Valentine - Broken Soup

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