Scottish author and stand-up comedian A.L. Kennedy has won the 2007 Costa Book of the Year award for her fifth novel, Day; the story of a former RAF prisoner-of-war returning to Germany to confront his demons. The announcement was made on Tuesday 22nd January at an awards ceremony held at The Intercontinental Hotel in central London. A L Kennedy is Associate Professor in the Warwick Writing Programme.
The Costa Book Awards recognise the most enjoyable books of the last year by writers based in the UK and Ireland. Originally established by Whitbread PLC in 1971, Costa announced its takeover of the sponsorship of the UK's popular and prestigious book prize in 2006.
Despite a morbid fear of flying, Kennedy interrupted her American tour to fly back to the UK for 24 hours to attend the awards ceremony. The Glasgow-based author spent three years researching the book, which tells of British PoW and Lancaster tailgunner Alfred Day, trying to cope with civilian life in 1949.
In one of the most open contests since the Book of the Year award was introduced in 1985, A.L. Kennedy beat best-selling biographer, Simon Sebag Montefiore for Young Stalin, first-time novelist Catherine O'Flynn for What Was Lost, poet Jean Sprackland for Tilt and children's writer Ann Kelley for The Bower Bird for the overall prize.
Costa's Managing Director, John Derkach, presented Kennedy with a cheque for £25,000 at the glittering awards ceremony.
Day, published by Jonathan Cape, is the eighth novel to take the overall prize. Andrea Levy was the last author to win the Book of the Year with a novel taking the prize in 2004 for Small Island.
Since the introduction of the Book of the Year award in 1985, it has been won seven times by a novel, four times by a first novel, five times by a biography, five times by a collection of poetry and once by a children's book.