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26 January 2011

Jo Shapcott triumphs at Costa Book of the Year award

Poet's win confounds predictions of critics and bookmakers.

By Lucian Robinson

The poet Jo Shapcott has won the Costa Book of the Year award for her collection, Of Mutability. It was a surprise result for the £35,000 award, as in the run-up to last night’s award ceremony the ceramicist Edmund de Waal had been the favourite amongst the critics for his acclaimed memoir, The Hare with Amber Eyes.

The critics were not the only ones who had thought that the result of the Costa Book of the Year prize was a foregone conclusion. The bookmakers also had de Waal placed as a surefire winner, with William Hill last week giving odds of 13/8 for him to come away with the award, while Shapcott was given retrospectively over-generous odds of 4/1.

The chair of the judging panel, the political journalist Andrew Neil praised Of Mutability as a “special, original, compassionate, uplifting and accessible book that readers will go back to again and again.” This is the second year in a row that a poetry collection has won the Costa Book of the Year award, with Christopher Reid’s elegiac collection, A Scattering, having taken the prize for 2009.

The Costa Book of the Year is chosen from among the winners of the five £5,000 individual category awards (First Novel Award, Novel Award, Children’s Book Award, Poetry Award and Biography Award), which were announced earlier in the year.

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Last night marked another success for Faber poetry, who published Of Mutability, Shapcott’s first collection for a decade. They also published Derek Walcott’s collection White Egrets, which was awarded the T S Eliot prize for poetry on Monday night.