Colm Toibin takes Costa Book Awards fiction prize

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LONDON (AP) — Irish writer Colm Toibin was named novelist of the year Monday in Britain’s lucrative Costa Book Awards for his emigrant saga “Brooklyn.”

The judges praised Toibin’s “poised, quiet and incrementally shattering” story about a young Irishwoman in the 1950s caught between a new life in New York and the pull of her homeland.

Raphael Selbourne won the first novel award for “Beauty,” the story of a young Bangladeshi woman in Britain on the run from an arranged marriage.

The prizes — known until 2006 as the Whitbread Book Awards — were established in 1971. They are open to residents of Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

The prizes are awarded in five categories — novel, first novel, poetry, biography and children’s book. Each category winner receives 5,000 pounds ($8,000). One of the five will receive the 25,000-pound book of the year award Jan. 26.

Graham Farmelo won the biography prize for “The Strangest Man,” a life of physicist Paul Dirac. The poetry prize went to Christopher Reid for “A Scattering,” and U.S.-born writer Patrick Ness won the children’s book award for “The Ask and the Answer.”

The awards were renamed in 2006 after sponsorship switched from retail and leisure group Whitbread to the Costa coffee shop chain.