A.L. Kennedy

LONDON — Scottish writer and standup comedian A.L. Kennedy has won Britain's Costa Book of the Year Award for her novel about a World War II veteran whose work as an extra on a war film forces him to confront his past.

Kennedy, 42, will receive $50,000 for her novel "Day," which the chairwoman of the judging panel, author Joanna Trollope, called "perfectly, beautifully written."

"(It's) very witty, very lyrical; it's quite dark," Trollope said this week. "Her style is arresting. There's a shadow of James Joyce in it."

Candidates for the award included Simon Sebag Montefiore's "Young Stalin," an account of the Soviet dictator's formative years; former teacher and postal worker Catherine O'Flynn's "What Was Lost"; Jean Sprackland's poetry collection, "Tilt"; and Ann Kelley's children's book, "The Bower Bird."

Kennedy has published four previous novels and several short-story collections and performs regularly as a comic.

The prize, known until 2006 as the Whitbread Book of the Year Award, was established in 1971. Competition is open to residents of Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

The awards were renamed two years ago after sponsorship switched from retail and leisure group Whitbread Group PLC to the Costa coffee shop chain.