Ali Smith tipped to win Costa Prize
Ali Smith is expected to make up for her Booker Prize disappointment and carry off the Costa Prize tonight for her novel How To Be Both.
The Scottish writer, made a CBE in the New Year Honours List, is favourite to win the prestigious prize ahead of a first-time novelist's story of a senile sleuth struggling with memory loss and a critically acclaimed memoir of one woman's bid to train a hawk.
Smith, who was shortlisted for the Booker but lost out to Australian Richard Flanagan, is 5-4 to win, according to bookmakers William Hill.
The firm's spokesman Graham Sharpe said: "The Costa is packed with quality as usual - any of these titles would be a worthy winner but we believe Ali Smith looks the one to beat this year."
Smith's closest rival is expected to be Helen Macdonald's critically-acclaimed memoir H Is For Hawk.
Macdonald's book, about her time spent training a bird of prey as she comes to terms with her father's death, has already won the Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction and is 11-4 to win.
The Costa awards are divided into five categories: first novel, novel, biography, poetry and children's book, with the section winners eligible for book of the year.
Also nominated is Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey, inspired by her grandmother's experience of dementia, and Kate Saunders' Five Children On The Western Front which is a follow-up to the 1902 novel Five Children And It by The Railway Children author E Nesbit.
The shortlist is completed by Newport-based teacher Jonathan Edwards for his poetry collection My Family And Other Superheroes.
Each short-listed author receives a £5,000 prize with the overall winner collecting a further £30,000.
The judges, led by best-selling novelist Robert Harris, will announce the winner at a ceremony in central London.
Previous winners include Hilary Mantel and Nathan Filer, whose debut novel, The Shock Of The Fall, won last year.