The biography of cavalry captain Witold Pilecki entitled "Volunteer" by the British writer and journalist Jack Fairweather received on Tuesday the title of the Book of the Year 2019 in one of the most prestigious literary competitions in Great Britain – the Costa Book Awards.
The book The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz, published last June, tells the story of cavalry captain Witold Pilecki and his time in the Nazi German death camp Auschwitz.
Earlier in January, Fairweather's book received the Costa Book Award in the biography category, which allowed it to qualify among the final five, from which the winner of the entire competition was selected on Tuesday. Together with the Costa Book of the Year title, a cash prize of £30,000 is awarded.
Since 1971, the Costa Book Awards have been awarded to books written in English by writers living in the UK or Ireland. They are currently awarded in five categories - novel, first novel, biography, poetry, and children's book - after which, the book of the year is selected from among the winners of these categories. This year’s winners of four other categories include: “Middle England” by Jonathan Coe (novel), “The Confessions of Frannie Langton” by Sara Collins (first novel), “Fleche” by Mary Jean Chan (poetry), and “Asha and the Spirit Bird” by Jasbinder Bilan (children’s book).
Jack Fairweather, 40, from Wales, is a writer and journalist; he was, among others, the head of the office of the British ‘Daily Telegraph’ in Baghdad and a photojournalist for the American ‘Washington Post’ in Afghanistan. He has previously written two other books: books, "The Good War" and "The War of Choice", about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has won prestigious journalistic awards.
"I stumbled across this historical figure (Pilecki) and wanted to know more. When he arrived at the camp in 1940, it was a brutal place for political prisoners and he witnessed the steps of the Nazis arriving at the ‘final solution’. He smuggled messages out to London, and this book covers why we did nothing,“ said Fairweather about his book.
The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz was very well received by the British press. After the book received the Costa Book Award in the biography category, excerpts from the book and extensive reviews have been published in the newspapers "The Times" and "The Guardian".
[source: Polish Press Agency (PAP), Bartłomiej Niedziński]