The Costa Book Awards have been running since 1971. They are one of the biggest and most significant book awards in the UK. Awards are given to writers in the UK and Ireland in five different categories. Previous winners have included Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman in 2017, Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel in 2012, and Just Henry by Michelle Magorian in 2008. Check out books by Costa Book Awards winners here!
Once the category winners are announced, (see list below) the judges then decide on one book out of the five to be awarded the prestigious Costa Book of the Year. This year, the award goes to…
The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather
This worthy winner is the extraordinary true story of Witold Pilecki, a polish man who founded and organised a resistance group in Warsaw known as the Secret Polish Army during the outbreak of the second world war. In an attempt to get the Auschwitz concentration camp destroyed by allies, he volunteered to be sent there.
From inside the camp, Pilecki gained members for the resistance, befriended sympathisers, and smuggled oral reports and details of the horrors to allies on the outside.
Incredibly, Pilecki’s story does not end in Auschwitz. He continued to share information in exile and never lost hope. His unimaginable acts of bravery have led him to become a national hero in a Poland that is finally free. Jack Fairweather used researchers and a wealth of sources including Pilecki’s own memoir to create a biography of unforgettable weight. As the 27th of January 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the impact of this book will be felt well beyond UK shores.
The recognition of Fairweather’s work by the Costa Book Awards will help Pilecki’s story reach more and more people. Though an emotionally gruelling read, The Volunteer at its heart is a story of hope. It details the darkest depths of humanity but is lifted up by the incredible feats of people fuelled by unadulterated good.
2019 Costa Book Awards Category Winners
Here’s the list of all the winners of the 2019 Costa Book Awards. Have you read any?
- 2019 Novel Winner: Middle England by Jonathan Coe
- 2019 First Novel Winner: The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins
- 2019 Biography Winner: The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather
- 2019 Poetry Winner: Flèche by Mary Jean Chan
- 2019 Children’s Book: Asha & the Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan
Find your own favourites in our selection of books from Costa Book Awards winners across all categories. There you will find winning books alongside other great books written by winners. Don’t forget to let us know your personal favourite!
What do you think of the Costa Book Awards 2019 winners? Which ones have you read? Let us know in the comments below.