Sebastian Barry has won the £25,000 Costa Book Award for his novel The Secret Scripture.
There has been a bit of a hoo-hah about the ending of the novel, which is about a 100 year old woman in a psychiatric hospital, with many reviewers being unhappy with it. Even the Costa Book Award judges spoke about it. Head judge Matthew Parris said:
“The feeling of many of the judges with The Secret Scripture was that there was a lot wrong with it and it was flawed in many ways… Almost nobody liked the ending (and) for some that was fatal to their support for the book.”
However, they ultimately decided that Barry’s characterisation was so strong that it made up for “structural weaknesses” in the book. Adam Foulds was apparently a close runner-up for his collection of poems, The Broken Word. Parris has said that out of the nine judges, five voted for The Secret Scripture while four voted for The Broken Word, so it was a close thing.
The other shortlisted titles were The Outcast by Sadie Jones, Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill, and Just Henry by Michelle Magorian.