Irish novelist and playwright Sebastian Barry has won the Costa Book of the Year Award for his book Days Without End, becoming the first novelist to win the award twice.

The Dublin-born author saw off competition from fellow writers Keggie Carew, Brian Conaghan, Alice Oswald and Francis Spufford to win the £30,000 prize at a ceremony in Central London. 

Barry’s work, set in the wars of 1850s America, tells the story of comrades and lovers Thomas McNulty and John Cole. It was hailed by the judges as a “searing, magnificent and incredibly moving description of how the West was won”.

Days Without End had been named as the winner in the Costa Novel of the Year category earlier this month.

Accepting the award, Barry said: “You nearly had the first instance of a posthumous winner – I got such a fright! 

“It’s often said about the shortlists of prizes that any of them could have won, and I think the judges would agree on this occasion that any of these amazing, amazing books could have won – leaving aside my own!

“I do want to thank the judges; you’ve made me ‘crazy happy’ from the top of my head to my toes in a way that is a little bit improper at 61!”  

More to follow…


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