Authors, Celebrities, Literary Agents and Publicists, and guests with a love of books, converged on Quaglino’s in London’s St James’s for the presentation of the annual Costa Book Awards and the announcement of the winner of the ultimate accolade, the Costa Book of the Year. After hours of deliberation, the Final Judging Panel under the Chairmanship of Sian Williams, announced former war reporter Jack Fairweather’s biography The Volunteer, the winner.
The Volunteer is the story of Auschwitz hero Witold Pilecki, who smuggled evidence of Nazi atrocities out of the death camp, having built up his own resistance group within the camp. He was subsequently executed by the country’s new communist rulers. Sian Williams said that The Volunteer gives hope to those who want to speak out in a time when hate speech is on the rise, hate crime is on the rise, and anti-Semitism is on the rise.
The 2019 Costa Book Awards category winners celebrated and were presented with their Awards by Costa Managing Director Jill McDonald, in a ceremony hosted by Penny Smith. These winners comprised Sara Collins, Costa First Novel Award for The Confessions of Frannie Langton, Jonathan Coe, Costa Novel Award for Middle England, Jack Fairweather, Costa Biography Award for The Volunteer, Mary Jean Chan, Costa Poetry Award for Flèche and Jasbinder Bilan, Costa Children’s Book Award for Asha & the Spirit Bird.
Canard-Duchêne Champagne flowed, and under the watchful eyes of Private Dining Rooms Manager Jose Abreu, a delicious selection of gourmet canapés were served, including Bass ceviche with basil, capers, tobiko caviar, tostados, Prawn cocktail and crushed avocado in a charcoal mini cone, Blackened miso & honey glazed salmon with coriander crème fraiche, Mini beef burger with Gruyère, harissa & tomato relish, Crispy buttermilk chicken with smoked paprika dip, Caramelised onion and goats cheese tart, Mini Veggie burger with spinach & chickpea beignet Gruyère, harissa & tomato relish and Burrata with sundried tomato pesto and sea salt crackers. Dessert canapés followed including Valrhona chocolate tart and Classic lemon meringue.
The success and enjoyment of the evening was a tribute to the hard work of Costa Book Awards Director Bud McLintock and the Costa Book Awards PR Amanda Johnson, as they watched Quaglino’s buzzing with happy winners and guests.