Meeting the English by Kate Clanchy has been shortlisted for the Costa First Novel 2013 and Hill of Doors by Robin Robertson and Clive James's translation of Dante's The Divine Comedy are on the Costa Poetry Award 2013 shortlist.
Kate Clanchy is an established poet, and Meeting the English is her first novel. It follows Struan Robertson, orphan, genius, and just seventeen, as he sets out to work as a carer for literary giant Phillip Prys. Dumbfounded and paralysed by a massive stroke, because, though two teenage children, two wives, and a literary agent all rattle round Phillip's large house, they are each too busy with their peculiar obsessions to do it themselves. As the city bakes, Struan finds himself tangled in a midsummer's dream of mistaken identity, giddying property prices, wild swimming, and overwhelming passions.
Charged with strangeness and beauty, Hill of Doors is a haunted and haunting book, where each successive poem seems a shape conjured from the shadows, and where the uncanny is made physically present.
‘Robertson’s poetry is, in Wallace Stevens’ sense, “the cry of its occasion”, deeply felt but with a stern music interposed between poet and reader . . . Robertson’s world is a mixed realm of magic and reality, past and present, enchantments and dis-enchantments . . . The work of a highly musical poet at the height of his powers’ Brian Morton, Scottish Review of Books
For Dante, the dramatic human stories of Hell were exciting, but the spiritual studies of Purgatory and the sublime panoramas of Heaven were no less so. In this incantatory new translation of The Divine Comedy, Clive James – defying the convention by writing in quatrains – tackles these problems head-on and creates a striking and hugely accessible translation that gives us The Divine Comedy as a whole, unified, and dramatic work.
The winners in each category will be announced on 28 January 2014. See who the Picador contenders are up against in the full shortlists for the awards. Who do you think will win? Have you read any of the shortlisted books? What do you think?