Colm Toibin has been hailed as the frontrunner to scoop the Costa Book of the Year award after clinching the prize's Novel Award category last night for his work titled Brooklyn.
The author's sixth novel centres around a young Irish girl who travels to the United States in the 1950s to find work, before tragic news summons her home.
Bookmaker William Hill made the book its favourite to win the Costa award, which will be selected from various category winners later this month.
Toibin's books have been translated into 18 languages and he is publishing a collection of short stories, The Empty Family, this year.
The Irish novelist was shortlisted alongside works by other literary heavyweights such as Penelope Lively and Hilary Mantel — who previously won the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for Wolf Hall.
Janine Cook, fiction buyer at retailer Waterstone's, said: “The Costa never fails to pick an eclectic bunch of winners, and this year is no exception.
“The frontrunner must be Colm Toibin's Brooklyn which we sold very well over Christmas.
“However, smart punters might want to place a bet on Beauty by Raphael Selbourne.”
Judges on this year's panels included actor and writer Neil Pearson and broadcaster and journalist Fiona Phillips.