Costa prize 2021 shortlists highlight climate anxiety | Costa book awards

Jesse Greengrass’ vision of a future Britain engulfed in a horrific flood, part of the expanding genre of climate change novels, is among the shortlisted books for the 2021 Costa Book Awards.

Greengrass’s The High House follows Caro and her little brother Paulie as they try to survive in flooded Suffolk, at a shelter set up by Caro’s climate scientist stepmother. In a novel described by the Rulers as “a powerful book that makes you think about the privilege of being saved and the reality of being saved,” Greengrass wrote:

The High House was one of several books submitted for the Novel Award to address environmental themes, judge and author Jesse Burton said, describing books that were “preoccupied with rising waters, global warming, the decimation of natural wildlife and the effects of humans on Earth.”

“There have been a variety of books on this topic or looking at this topic, but Jesse stood out, and he went from issue to novel,” Burton said. “What we wanted was a novel that the reader would want to read and immerse themselves in, even if it’s challenging material, like facing the reality of a world heating up. And I think Jesse’s book makes it all unbelievable, because she does it so skillfully. She’s a great writer, and that just raised her interest. The Book of the Planet.

Greengrass said she wanted to explore the “disconnection” between our knowledge of the impending catastrophe of the climate crisis and our inability to act on it — “the kind of strange space where you can watch something horrible, know it’s happening, be afraid of it happening, but keep dealing with all the normal things in the world.” life “.

It was selected for the Novel Awards list alongside writer Nadia Mohamed’s The Fortune Men, The Fortune Men, Claire Fuller Women’s Unsettled Ground, and Elif Shafak’s The Island of Missing Trees, which follows teens in war-torn Cyprus and 16 years of age. – After decades, she searched for a connection to the island where her parents were born.

“All of these novels are mandatory reading – providing fascinating stories and a clear lens on the past to help us look at the world with compassion and determination,” said the judging panel, which includes journalist Sarah Chaffee and bookseller Charlie Bush.

The first novel award shortlist also features a post-apocalyptic world. In Kate Sawyer’s The Stranding, a woman hides from a catastrophic accident inside a whale on a beach in New Zealand, in what judges describe as “the immersive end of a world story full of hope and imagination.”

Burton said she felt fiction was a useful place to explore themes of climate anxiety. “I know I will say that because I am a novelist. But I think we provide spaces when we write for readers to enter, where we explore ideas.” “Storytelling and this kind of communication is as old as hill. And I think it speaks to different parts of the brain than if you were sitting in front of the news. It penetrates a different part of your brain and your heart, which is why it is so effective.”

The Stranding was first shortlisted by Caleb Azumah Nelson Open Water, called an “accurate depiction of the facts of race today,” the poet A. K. Blakemore The Manningtree Witches, set in Essex in 1643 as a puritan zeal that grips the nation, and Emily Itami’s Fault Lines, where Mizuki, lonely despite her family, falls in love with Kiyoshi and begins an affair.

Originally founded in 1971, Kostas honors the year’s “most enjoyable” books across five categories, with 934 entries this year overall. The autobiographical shortlist features Ed Caesar’s story of British mountaineering legend Maurice Wilson, who attempted to climb Everest alone, against Guardian theater critic Areva Akbar’s memoir about her sister’s death of tuberculosis, John Preston’s portrait of Robert Maxwell, and Leah Yebe’s account of her coming. of age in communist Albania.

The poetry prize is won by Hannah Lowe, Raymond Antrobus, Caio Chingoni and Victoria Kennefick, while the children’s prize awards Mangit Mann’s poetry novel The Crossing against Ross Montgomery The Midnight Guardians, and two debuts by Helen Rutter and Anna Goodall.

“We are thrilled to celebrate these 20 wonderful books as we celebrate their 50th anniversary,” said Jill MacDonald, CEO of award sponsor Costa Coffee. “There is so much here for readers to explore, enjoy, recommend, and share.”

The overall winner will be announced on February 1, 2022, and will receive £30,000, and each category winner will receive £5,000. Last year, Monique Rovey won Book of the Year for her novel The Mermaid of Black Conch.

Full 2021 shortlists

first novel

Open Waters by Caleb Azuma Nelson (Viking)

The Manningtree Witches by AK Blakemore (Granta)

Fault Lines by Emily Itami (Phoenix)

Series The Stranding by Kate Sawyer (Coronet)

a novel

Unstable Earth – Claire Fuller (The Fig Tree)

The Higher House of Jesse Greengrass (Swift Press)

The Fortune Men – Nadia Muhammad (Viking)

Island of the Lost Trees – Elif Shafak (Viking)

Personal Biography

Expendable: The Story of an Older Presbyterian Sister (Scepter)

The Moth and the Mountain: A True Story of Love, War, and Everest by Ed Kaiser (Viking)

Fall: A Robert Maxwell Mystery by John Preston (Viking)

Free: Coming of Age at the End of History by Lea Ypi (Allen Lane)

poetry award

All names given by Raymond Antropos (Picador)

Blood Condition by Kayo Chingoni (Chatto and Windows)

Eat or we’re both hungry, by Victoria Kennefick (Karanit Press)

Children by Hannah Lowe (Bloodaxe Books)


Maggie Blue and the Dark World by Anna Goodall (Guppy Books)

Obour – Manjeet Man (Penguin)

The Midnight Guardians by Ross Montgomery (Walker Books)

The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh by Helen Ratter (Schoolastic School UK)

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