'Delighted' Toibin wins prestigious literary award
COLM Toibin's bestselling book 'Brooklyn' yesterday won the 2009 Costa Novel Award, one of the most prestigious annual literary prizes in Britain.
The author is now hot favourite to take the overall Costa Book of the Year prize -- worth £30,000 (€33,500) -- at the end of the month.
'Brooklyn' was one of those rare books which became a bestseller, not only here but in Britain and the US -- and the award will only increase its sales.
For Toibin (pictured right), it was a sweet victory because he beat the 2009 Man Booker-winning novel 'Wolf Hall' by Hilary Mantel.
A thrilled Toibin yesterday told the Irish Independent: "I didn't expect to win the Costa Novel of the Year and I am absolutely delighted."
The Costa awards -- formerly the Whitbread awards and taken over by the coffee chain in 2006 -- aim to "recognise some of the most outstanding and enjoyable books" each year by writers based in the UK and Ireland.
Winners are chosen in five categories, the most important of which is the Novel of the Year.
The winner in each category gets a prize of £5,000 (€5,600) and is then eligible for the overall Costa Book of the Year.
This year there were 592 entries overall and the 2009 Costa Book of the Year, which will be chosen from the five category winners, will be announced at the end of this month.
So now that he is hot favourite, will Toibin, who is known to enjoy a flutter in the books stakes, be putting money on himself to take the overall award?
"I made money when the Booker longlist was announced by putting money on Hilary Mantel when she was 12/1. Seemingly, I am 6/4 for the overall Costa -- not such a good bet," he said.
But it appears both critics and readers would disagree.
The 2008 Costa Book of the Year was 'The Secret Scripture' by Sebastian Barry, so if Toibin wins it will be two in a row for Irish writers. Previous winners of the award include Seamus Heaney and Kazuo Ishiguro.