Irish writer Sally Rooney wins 2018 Costa Novel Award for 'trailblazing' book, Normal People

At 27, Sally Rooney becomes the youngest ever winner of the Costa Novel Award, a £5,000 (approx. $8,499 Cdn) U.K. literary prize.
Normal People, a novel by Sally Rooney, is due out in Canada in April 2019 according publisher Knopf Canada's website. (Jonny L Davies)

Sally Rooney's second novel Normal People has won the 2018 Costa Novel Award, making the 27-year-old Irish writer the youngest person to ever receive the U.K. literary prize.

Rooney was one of five winners revealed by the Costa Book Awards, which annually awards £5,000 (approx. $8,499 Cdn) to winners in five categories: novel, first novel, children's book, poetry and biography. 

From these five titles, an overall winner will be selected on Jan. 29, 2019 to receive an additional £30,000 (approx. $50,994 Cdn) grand prize.

Normal People, previously longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize, follows the lives of Connell Waldron, a popular football star from a poor family, and Marianne Sheridan, a teenage outcast from a wealthy background. Despite being opposites in many ways, Connell and Marianne form a lifelong friendship, straying in and out of romance along the way.

The judges called the book "a trailblazing novel about modern life and love that will electrify any reader." It's due to be released in Canada in April, 2019.

The 2018 Costa First Novel Award went to Stuart Turton for The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. The book tells the story of a woman named Evelyn, who is murdered hundreds of times at her parents's party. The only way to end the cycle is for Aidan Bishop, a man who wakes up each day in a new guest's body, to identify the killer.

Judges described the book as an "ingenious, intriguing and highly original mindbender of a murder mystery" that "gripped us all."

The Costa Poetry Award winner was Scottish writer J.O. Morgan for Assurances, a book-length poem exploring nuclear war tensions during the Cold War period. Using both poetry and prose throughout the work, Morgan was praised for his "polyphonic" poem that "dazzled" judges for its "originality and inventiveness."

The Costa Children's Book Award went to The Skylarks' War by Hilary McKay, a veteran English writer with about 60 books to her name. Deemed by the judges "as perfect a novel as you could ever want to read," The Skylarks' War follows a young girl's coming-of-age in wartime England.

The Costa Biography Award was given to The Cut Out Girl by Dutch writer Bart van Es, a harrowing story of a young girl's Second World War experience. Lien was taken from her parents in The Hague and placed in the care of a foster family to keep her hidden from the Nazis. The couple that took her in was van Es's own grandparents.

"The hidden gem of the year. Sensational and gripping, and shedding light on some of the most urgent issues of our time, this was our unanimous winner," said the judges in a press release.


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