Three former winners of the Costa Novel Award have been shortlisted again for this year's prize. Maggie O'Farrell, Rose Tremain and Sebastian Barry will compete for the prize at the Costa Book Awards, formerly known as the Whitbread Awards. Sarah Perry has also been nominated in the category for her novel The Essex Serpent. Singer Kate Tempest leads the all-female shortlist in the poetry category. There are five categories in the annual Costa Book Awards - for novel, first novel, poetry, biography and children's book.
Sebastian Barry, who has won the Costa Book of the Year for a second time, tells the BBC that he dedicated the prize to his son, but reveals his children don't read his books. Days Without End, a historical novel set in 1850s, tells the story of two Irish soldiers who go to fight in the US. The gay relationship at the heart of the novel had been inspired by Barry's son coming out.
BBC newsreader George Alagiah has been shortlisted for a Society of Authors award for his debut novel. Alagiah's The Burning Land, is up for the Paul Torday memorial prize, awarded to a first novel by a writer over 60. The thriller's plot revolves around corruption and homicide in South Africa. Others in contention for the award include Madeleine by Euan Cameron, Gaby Koppel's Reparation and Find Me Falling by Fiona Vigo Marshall. Also competing are Donald S Murray's As the Women Lay Dreaming and The Stranger She Knew by Rosalind Stopps.
Margaret Mountford, chair of judges, said the final six were chosen after "a long and often passionate debate". Cynthia Bond, Lisa McInerney and Hannah Rothschild are the debut writers, while Hanya Yanagihara and Elizabeth McKenzie complete the shortlist of six. The winner of the award - formerly the Orange Prize - will be named on 8 June. "Our choices reflect a really diverse mix of brilliant writing from new and established authors around the world," Ms Mountford said. "We hope that everyone will find much to enjoy in them."