The esteemed writer and TV presenter Clive James is in contention to win the Costa Book Award for his translation of Italian poet Dante.
He is joined on the shortlists by the late novelist Bernardine Bishop, who was posthumously nominated for her novel Unexpected Lessons In Love.
The £30,000 literary prize, open to UK-based writers, is divided into five categories: first novel, novel, biography, poetry and children’s book.
The winners of each category pick up £5,000 with an overall winner getting £30,000 at a ceremony in central London on Tuesday, January 28.
Australian star James, who has struggled with ill health in the last few years, is best known for his hit show Clive James On Television and has had a long, successful career as a prominent literary critic and journalist.
His book, a translation of epic poem The Divine Comedy, was described by Costa Book Awards judges as “a towering achievement that will stand the test of time”.
Bishop – who was the youngest witness in the Lady Chatterley trial in 1960 – wrote two novels early in her career before working as a teacher and psychotherapist.
She was forced to retire following a cancer diagnosis and returned to fiction, writing two more novels before her death in July.
Other contenders include Kate Atkinson who won the overall prize in 1995. She is one of four names on the all-women shortlist for best novel.
Also shortlisted is Lucy Hughes-Hallett‘s biography of Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, which won this year’s Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction.
Last year’s overall Costa prize went to novelist Hilary Mantel for Bring Up The Bodies.