The Washington Post

Historic Costa Prize win for graphic work: ‘Dotter’ co-author calls it ‘long overdue recognition’ for graphic novel

“DOTTER OF Her Father’s Eyes” is now more than good. It’s also historic.

“Dotter” has just won Britain’s prestigious Costa Book Award for biography — the first time a graphic work has won that category. And to co-author Mary M. Talbot, it was high time for an illustrated book to be so honored.

“We were amazed the book was shortlisted, even more so when we heard it had won the Biography category,” Talbot tells Comic Riffs by email Thursday. “We’ve known for about three weeks and it’s been really hard keeping the secret over the holidays!”

“It’s wonderful that a graphic novel has been honoured this way, isn’t it?” continues Talbot, who co-created the book (Dark Horse/U.S.) with her illustrator-husband, Bryan Talbot, a comics veteran (Grandville, The Sandman, The Adventures of Luther Arkwright.)

“Long overdue recognition, actually.”

“Dotter” revolves around a Joycean link: Mary Talbot tells of her difficult and distant relationship with her dad, noted Joyce scholar James Atherton; this biography is set against the tragic tale of Lucia, daughter of James Joyce himself.


(courtesy of MARY TALBOT /.)

Last year, Joff Winterhart has’s “Days of the Bagnold Summerby” had also been shortlisted by the Costa book awards, in the Novel category.

The Costa awards (formerly the Whitbread awards), each of which comes with a cash prize ($8,125), recognize “outstanding and enjoyable books” by authors based in the UK and Ireland.

Also historic this year: All five Costa categories this year spotlighted women winners:

Hilary Mantel won for her novel “Bring Up the Bodies,” and Francesca Segal won the First Novel award for “The Innocents.” Sally Gardner won the Children’s Book honor for “Maggot Moon,” and Kathleen Jamie won the Poetry category for “The Overhaul.”

All five winners are shortlisted for the Costa Book of the Year, a grand prize that will be announced Jan. 29. The last Biography honoree to go on to win Book of the Year was Hilary Spurling’s “Matisse the Master,” in 2005.

Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.


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