January 5, 2009 / 7:36 PM / 10 years ago

Barry, 91-year-old among Costa Book Award winners

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Sebastian Barry won the Costa Book Awards’ best novel prize on Monday for “The Secret Scripture,” and 91-year-old Diana Athill became the oldest ever category winner with her memoir “Somewhere Toward the End.”

The best debut novel category was awarded to Sadie Jones for “The Outcast,” the poetry section went to Adam Foulds for “The Broken Word” about the Mau Mau uprisings in Kenya and Michelle Magorian was named the children’s book winner with “Just Henry.”

The five authors each receive 5,000 pounds ($7,250), and appearing on the shortlist of major literary awards like Costa, Booker and Orange can significantly boost a book’s sales.

They are also eligible for the overall 2008 Costa Book of the Year prize which will be awarded on January 27 and comes with a check for 25,000 pounds.

Dublin-born Barry was one of six nominees for the 2008 Booker Prize with The Secret Scripture, the second time he has been nominated for what is arguably Britain’s most prestigious literary award. He lost out to Aravind Adiga.

Costa organizers described Athill’s Somewhere Toward the End as a book about “what it means to be old and to face death every day, but still have the strength to strive for life with an unquenchable curiosity for all that it brings.”

The Costa Book Awards started life in 1971 as the Whitbread Literary Awards. In 2006, Costa Coffee took over ownership.

Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato

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