Writers of African descent on UK’s Costa Book Awards 2021 shortlists.

Nadifa Mohamed, Caleb Azumah Nelson, Raymond Antrobus, and Kayo Chingonyi, are on the shortlists for the Costa Book Awards announced on November 23, 2021

The Costa Book Awards are literary awards recognising English-language books by writers based in Britain and Ireland given annually since 1971. They were known as the Whitbread Book Awards until 2006 when Costa Coffee, then a subsidiary of Whitbread, took over sponsorship. Some of the previous winners have been Sara Collins, Giles Foden, Monique Roffey, and Zadie Smith.

The award categories are First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book – with one of the five winning books selected as the overall Costa Book of the year and each category judged separately by a panel of three judges per category. The shortlists for the awards, which turn 50 this year, were announced on Tuesday.


The writers of African descent who made the cut this year are;

Costa First Novel Award 2021 shortlist

Judges: Dymphna Flynn, Audio producer and books journalist; Xiaolu Guo, Novelist, memoirist and filmmaker; Joe Hedinger, Bookseller, The Book Hive


  • Open Water, Caleb Azumah Nelson, Viking

Costa Novel Award 2021 shortlist

Judges: Jessie Burton, Author; Charlie Bush, Bookseller, Blackwell’s; Sarah Shaffi,Journalist


  • The Fortune Men, Nadifa Mohamed, Viking

2021 Costa Poetry Award shortlist

Judges: Rishi Dastidar, Poet and Copywriter; Ian Duhig, Poet; Maya Jaggi, Cultural Journalist and Critic


  • All The Names Given, Raymond Antrobus, Picador
  • A Blood Condition, Kayo Chingonyi, Chatto & Windus

Nadifa Mohamed tweeted on her shortlist, “Woohoo! Shortlisted for CostaBookAwardsnovel award! Thank you to the judges.”

Caleb Azumah Nelson tweeted, “So pleased and grateful to be on the shortlist for @CostaBookAwardsFirst Novel Award, along with @akblakemore @EmilyItami @KateSawyerand their excellent books!”

The category winners who win £5,000 will be known on January 4, 2022, before the Costa Book of the Year worth £30,000 prize is announced on February 1, 2022.


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