...For Christopher Reid, the poet whose collection A Scattering, reflecting on the life and death of his wife, the actress Lucinda Gane, has won the Costa (formerly Whitbread) Book of the Year prize, worth 30'000 pounds and much more as the prize increases sales of the book. This prize, one of Britain's most prestigious, has been kind to poets in the past -- Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney have been previous winners but ,while they were well-known, Christopher Reid has until now had only a relatively small group of admirers.

The judges also deserve a cheer for choosing an outsider rather than Colm Toibin's novel Brooklyn which had been a hot favourite since the short list was made. The chairman of the judges, the novelist Josephine Hart ,said that A Scattering was a “devastating book” which the judging panel thought was “good bordering on great”. At a time that the book publishing and selling trade is trying to adjust to the heavy discounting of popular titles on the internet, awards such as the Costa and Man Booker have an important part to play in drawing attention to books of quality and lasting interest.