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The Globe and Mail

Maggie O'Farrell wins Costa Book Award for best novel

British writer Maggie O'Farrell was named novelist of the year Tuesday at Britain's Costa Book Awards for The Hand That First Held Mine.

The novel, O'Farrell's fifth, follows the lives of two very different women as they cope with motherhood and the complexity of mother-child relationships.

The Costa Book Awards are awarded in five categories: novel, first novel, biography, poetry and children's book.

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Kishwar Desai took the award for best debut novel with Witness the Night, which describes hidden female infanticide in India.

Ceramic artist and potter Edmund de Waal won the biography prize for his memoir The Hare with Amber Eyes, which the judges called "a truly special book."

Jo Shapcott collected the poetry award for Of Mutability, which drew from her experience with breast cancer while Jason Wallace claimed the children's book award for Out of Shadows, a novel set in Zimbabwe.

Each of the award winners, selected from 540 entries, will receive $7,800 (US).

The five winners are now short-listed for the grand prize of 2010 Costa Book of the Year. The winner of the $39,000 award will be announced on Jan. 25 in London.

The awards, known until 2006 as the Whitbread Book Awards, were established in 1971.

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