LONDON – Author Andrew Miller on Tuesday won Britain’s lucrative Costa Book Award for his historical novel, “Pure,” set in Paris in the years leading up to the French Revolution.
Judges praised the novel for its “rich and evocative” portrayal of pre-revolutionary France. Set in Paris, 1785, the book was about a young engineer who was assigned to empty an overflowing cemetery.
Miller beat four other finalists to the 30,000-pound ($46,870) prize. His rivals were Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy for “The Bees,” Christie Watson for “Tiny Sunbirds Far Away,” Moira Young for “Blood Red Road,” and the bookmakers’ favourite Matthew Hollis for his biography “Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas.”
The Costa prizes are awarded in five categories, with one chosen as the overall winner.
“The qualities of ‘Pure’ stood out for its memorable gothic tale of morality and mortality,” said Geordie Greig, who chaired the judging panel.
Miller, who has written five other novels, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2001 for “Oxygen.”
The award is open to writers based in Britain and Ireland. Last year’s winner was Jo Shapcott, who took the prize with her collection “On Mutability.”