Page last updated at 19:31 GMT, Monday, 5 January 2009

Costa Book Award winners revealed

Costa Book Awards
The overall winner will be announced later this month

Author Sebastian Barry and 91-year-old Diana Athill have been shortlisted for the Costa Book of the Year.

Sadie Jones, Adam Foulds and Michelle Magorian complete the nominees for the prize, to be announced on 27 January.

The five writers have been revealed as winners of the Costa Book Awards' individual categories.

Barry triumphed in the novel category for The Secret Scripture, while Athill won the biography award for her memoir Somewhere Towards the End.

Sebastian Barry The Secret Scripture
Diana Athill Somewhere Towards the End
Sadie Jones The Outcast
Adam Foulds The Broken Word
Michelle Magorian Just Henry

Athill - at 91 the oldest category-winner in the history of the awards - has had a huge influence in the publishing world as editor to authors such as Norman Mailer, John Updike and VS Naipul.

Her memoir looks back on her life and the stories, events and relationships that have shaped it.

Judges described it as a "perfect memoir of old age - candid, detailed, charming... and beautifully, beautifully written."

Magorian won the children's book award for Just Henry, while Jones won the first novel award for The Outcast, and Foulds took the poetry prize for The Broken Word.

Sebastian Barry. Photograph: Courtesy of The Irish Times
Barry was nominated for the Man Booker prize last year

The authors each receive 5,000 for reaching this stage in the competition, and the overall winner will earn 50,000.

"We're very proud to be announcing such an outstanding collection of books which we know people will enjoy reading," said John Derkach, managing director of Costa.

"It makes for a very exciting awards ceremony later this month."

Barry, who is the bookmakers' favourite to win the prize, missed out on the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in October to Aravind Adiga for The White Tiger.

Stand up and cheer for Diana Athill
Razia Iqbal, BBC arts correspondent

The Costa Award judges described The Secret Scripture as an "exquisitely written love story".

The Outcast, about a former prisoner who returns to his south of England home in 1957, was an "assured" debut from Jones, the judges said.

They described Magorian's Just Henry as a "soaring, uplifting warm bath of a book " about a young boy who escapes the bleakness of life through his passion for cinema.

And Fould's The Broken Word is a "delicate and powerful" poetic sequence that charts a young man's progress through the Mau Mau uprisings in Kenya, the panel said.

Originally established in 1971 by Whitbread, Costa took over the sponsorship of the prize in 2006.

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