Twenty authors have been shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards – and only six of them are men.
The awards, the only major UK book prize which is open solely to authors living in the UK and Ireland, recognises books across five categories: first novel, novel, biography, poetry, and children’s book.
But only six male authors have been shortlisted across the categories, the lowest figure since records were first compiled in 1995.
The poetry category, whose shortlisted writers include Kate Tempest and Alice Oswald, has no male names at all.
Shortlisted writers in other categories include former competitive figure skater Susan Beale for her debut novel The Good Guy.
Pop journalist Sylvia Patterson is shortlisted in the biography category for I’m Not With The Band: A Writer’s Life Lost In Music, her account of being “confronted by glamour and tragedy, wisdom and lunacy, drink, drugs and disaster. And Bros”.
John Guy’s portrayal of the “reality” of Elizabeth I “struggling to lead Britain” has been shortlisted for the biography award.
Congratulations to my fellow shortlisted authors! https://t.co/PsiJyZfGee— Francesca Simon (@simon_francesca) November 22, 2016
Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years tells the story of the monarch at “50 years old, past childbearing, but with her greatest challenges – the Spanish Armada, the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots and relentless plotting among her courtiers – still to come”.
The biography is billed as a “gripping and vivid portrait of her life and times – often told in her own words”, revealing “a woman who is fallible, increasingly insecure, and struggling to lead Britain”.
Francesca Simon, the author of the Horrid Henry series of children’s books, is in the running for the children’s award for The Monstrous Child, her first novel for readers aged 12 and up.
Winners in the five categories, who each receive £5,000, will be announced on January 3rd.
The overall winner of the 2016 Costa Book of the Year will receive £30,000 and will be announced at the Costa Book Awards ceremony in central London on January 31.
The final shortlist includes…
:: Novel Award
Days Without End (Sebastian Barry)
This Must Be The Place (Maggie O’Farrell)
The Essex Serpent (Sarah Perry)
The Gustav Sonata (Rose Tremain)
:: First Novel Award
The Good Guy (Susan Beale)
My Name Is Leon (Kit de Waal)
The Words In My Hand (Guinevere Glasfurd)
Golden Hill (Francis Spufford)
:: Biography Award
Dadland: A Journey Into Uncharted Territory (Keggie Carew)
Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years (John Guy)
The Return: Fathers, Sons And The Land In Between (Hisham Matar)
I’m Not With The Band: A Writer’s Life Lost In Music (Sylvia Patterson)
:: Poetry Award
Sunshine (Melissa Lee-Houghton)
Falling Awake (Alice Oswald)
Say Something Back (Denise Riley)
Let Them Eat Chaos (Kate Tempest)
:: Children’s Book Award
The Bombs That Brought Us Together (Brian Conaghan)
Orangeboy (Patrice Lawrence)
The Monstrous Child (Francesca Simon)
Time Travelling With A Hamster (Ross Welford)