Ali Smith's 'How to be both' takes Costa novel award

Mon Jan 5, 2015 2:40pm EST
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - Scottish writer Ali Smith's inventive "How to be both", which is divided into two parts, each starting with a different character, was named as the winner in the novel category on Monday for Britain's 2014 Costa Book Awards.

Smith's critically acclaimed novel, which also was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, contains the twin stories of George and Franchescho, one a 1960s teenager, the other a young artist in 15th-century Ferrara, which can be read in either order.

A winner of the same award in 2005 for "The Accidental", Smith's novel will contend with four other books for the main Costa Book of the Year award, to be announced on Jan. 27.

The other category winners are as follows:

- Emma Healey, the First Novel Award for "Elizabeth is Missing", narrated by an elderly woman who is suffering from dementia.

- Helen Macdonald, the Biography Award for "H is for Hawk", a personal account of her efforts to train a goshawk as a way to cope with grief after her father's death.

- Welsh poet and teacher Jonathan Edwards, the Poetry Award for his debut collection "My Family and Other Superheroes".

- Author and journalist Kate Saunders, the Children's Book Award for "Five Children on the Western Front", set during World War One.   Continued...

Nominated British authors Ali Smith (L), who wrote "How to be Both" and Neel Mukherjee, who wrote "The Lives of Others", talk before the awards dinner for the 2014 Man Booker Prize at the Guildhall in London, October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Alastair Grant/Pool