Friday, January 04, 2013

Costa awards 2012: graphic biography wins category prize

• Women win all five Costa categories for first time

• Mantel named as favourite to clinch overall prize
bryan and mary talbot
Costa-winning couple Mary and Bryan Talbot.

A graphic work has been named as the winner of the biography section in the 2012 Costa book awards – a first for the prestigious literary prize that also reached another significant milestone when women swept the board in the five categories.
Mary Talbot's Dotter of Her Father's Eyes, which was illustrated by her husband Bryan, a veteran of the comic genre, won biography of the year while Hilary Mantel won the novel award for Bring Up the Bodies; Francesca Segal won first novel for The Innocents; Kathleen Jamie's The Overhaul came first in poetry, and Sally Gardner's Maggot Moon was named children's book of the year.

"It's wonderful," said Talbot on hearing that a woman won in every category. "It just shows how much female talent there is out there."
She and her husband won the £5,000 biography prize for a book that interweaves the true and tragic story of James Joyce's daughter Lucia with the author's own troubled relationship with her father, the eminent Joycean scholar James S Atherton.

The Talbots have known of the win for several weeks. "It has been really hard keeping quiet about it," said Mary. "We were astonished. Just being shortlisted was amazing and hearing we'd won the category was stunning. We're delighted of course, both personally – it's the first story I've had published – but also for the medium, I can't believe a graphic novel has won."
It is not the first graphic work to win a major literary prize – Art Spiegelman's Maus won a Pulitzer in 1992 and Chris Ware won the Guardian first book prize in 2001 for Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth – but the Costa award is still a significant moment for the graphic medium.
"It is a good thing for graphic novels as a whole," said Bryan Talbot whose prodigious output includes The Adventures of Luther Arkwright and Alice in Sunderland as well as strips for Judge Dredd and Batman. "Graphic novels are becoming increasingly accepted as a legitimate art form."
The last graphic novel spike came about 25 years ago with the popularity of books such as The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen and Maus. The problem then, said Talbot, was that there were not enough books to feed this. "By the time you'd read a dozen or so of the best titles, there wasn't enough left to keep this nascent interest going. Since then, there has been an increasing number of graphic novels published and now we have this whole canon of quality work.
"We are living in the golden age of graphic novels. There are more and better comics being drawn today than ever in the history of the medium and there's such a range of styles of artwork, of genre and of subject matter."
Judges called Dotter of Her Father's Eyes "a beautifully crafted" work "which crosses the boundaries between literature and the graphic genre with extraordinary effect".
Full story at The Guardian

And from The Bookseller:

Women writers dominate Costa category wins

Hilary Mantel's Man Booker Prize-winning Bring Up the Bodies (Fourth Estate) has secured a further win, taking this year's Costa Novel Award.
In a women-dominated list of category winners, the Costa Biography Award went to Dotter of her Father's Eyes (Jonathan Cape), a memoir in graphic form co-written by Mary and Bryan Talbot. The book, a study of two father-daughter relationships, is the first graphic work to win a Costa Award.
Francesca Segal's debut The Innocents (Chatto & Windus), set in a London Jewish community and modelled on Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence, has won the Costa First Novel Award. Meanwhile poet Kathleen Jamie's The Overhaul (Picador) won the the Costa Poetry Award and Sally Gardner took the Costa Children's Book Award for her young adult novel Maggot Moon (Hot Key Books).
All five winners receive £5,000 and will now go on to compete for the £30,000 Costa Book of the Year award, to be announced on 28th January. The winner of the inaugural Costa Short Story Award, voted for by the public, will also be revealed at the ceremony.
Ron Johns of Mabrecon Books and Sarah Clarke, range manager at Waterstones, are among those judging this year's category winners, alongside authors including Marcus Sedgwick and D J Taylor.
Andrew Miller's Pure (Sceptre) won the Costa Book of the Year award last year.

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