Page last updated at 19:30 GMT, Monday, 4 January 2010

Colm Toibin makes the shortlist for the Costa Book Prize

Costa Book Awards montage

Irish novelist Colm Toibin has been shortlisted for the Costa Book of the Year for his "poised, quiet and shattering" emigrant saga Brooklyn.

He is favourite to win the £30,000 prize after scooping the novel award.

The award's individual categories are split into novel, first novel, poetry, biography and children's book.

Raphael Selbourne, Graham Farmelo, Patrick Ness and Christopher Reid complete the nominees, with the winner announced on 26 January.

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The five winners, each of whom will receive £5,000, were selected from 592 entries, and will now fight for the title 2009 Costa Book of the Year.

Toibin beat Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel in the novel category for Brooklyn, which centres around a young Irish girl who travels to the US 1950s to find work, before tragic news takes her back home.

Reid won the poetry award for A Scattering, a tribute to his wife following her death in 2005.

The judges, chaired by novelist Josephine Hart, described the collection of poems as "intensely moving, compelling and honest".

Selbourne won the first novel award for Beauty, the story of a young Bangladeshi woman on the run from her family, while debut biographer Farmelo won his award for The Strangest Man, about the life of physicist Paul Dirac.

Ness won the Children's Book Award for The Ask and the Answer which the judges acclaimed as "a major achievement in the making".

Colm Toibin - Brooklyn
Christopher Reid - A Scattering
Raphael Selbourne - Beauty
Graham Farmelo - The Strangest Man
Patrick Ness - The Ask and the Answer

Janine Cook, fiction buyer at book retailer Waterstone's, said: "The Costa never fails to pick an eclectic bunch of winners, and this year is no exception.

"The frontrunner must be Colm Toibin's Brooklyn which we sold very well over Christmas.

"However, smart punters might want to place a bet on Beauty by Raphael Selbourne."

John Derkach, managing director of Costa, said the five winners were an "outstanding" collection of books.

Patrick Ness defended his depiction of violence

He said: "The Costa Book Awards have an excellent track record of recognising and celebrating some of the very best current British writing, and books that can be enjoyed by everyone."

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

Since the main book of the year award was introduced in 1985, it has been won nine times by a novel, five times by both poetry and biography and four by a debut novel.

A children's book has triumphed just once.

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