London: Irish author Colm Toibin is favourite to win the 30,000-pound Costa Book of the Year award after Monday clinching the best novel category for his work "Brooklyn," observers said.
The winner of the Costa Award is drawn from the winner of five individual categories -- novel, first novel, poetry, biography and children`s book -- which were announced Monday.
Toibin beat Man Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel to take the novel category for "Brooklyn," which centres on a young Irish girl who travels to the United States in the 1950s to find work before tragic news summons her back home.
Other category winners were Raphael Selbourne, a former scooter salesman, for his first novel "Beauty" about a Bangladeshi woman who flees an abusive arranged marriage.
Hong Kong-born Christopher Reid picked up the poetry award for "A Scattering", a tribute to his wife following her death in 2005.
Graham Farmelo took the biography category for his work on quantum mechanics pioneer Paul Dirac in "The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius."
Patrick Ness won the children`s book award for "The Ask and the Answer" the second instalment in the "Chaos Walking" trilogy, which judges hailed as a "dazzlingly-imagined, morally complex, compulsively-plotted tale".
Bookmaker William Hill said Toibin was 6/4 favourite to win the Costa which will be announced on January 26.
"The Costa never fails to pick an eclectic bunch of winners, and this year is no exception," said Janine Cook, fiction buyer at retailer Waterstone`s.
"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," she said.
Sebastian Barry won the 2008 Costa for "The Secret Scripture".
The Costa Book Award, formerly the Whitbread Book Award, was established in 1971 to celebrate contemporary British and Irish writing. A panel of writers, actors and broadcasters choose the most enjoyable books from the past year.