Scottish writer Ali Smith's novel "The Accidental" was competing with four other works for top honors Tuesday in Britain's lucrative Whitbread Book Awards. The Whitbread's top prize goes to one of the winners of prizes already awarded in five categories novel, first novel, poetry, biography and children's book. Each category winner receives 5,000 pounds (US$8,700; Ђ7,300), while the overall winner receives the 25,000 pound (US$43,000; Ђ37,000) Whitbread Book of the Year Award.
Smith, best known as a short-story writer, was the bookies' favorite to take the prize with her first full-length novel, the tale of an enigmatic young woman who disturbs a family's uneventful holiday in an English town. The other contenders include Tash Aw's Malaysian-set saga "The Harmony Silk Factory," which won the first novel prize.
Christopher Logue won the poetry category for "Cold Calls," a modern reworking of Homer's "Iliad." Hilary Spurling took the biography prize for "Matisse the Master," while Kate Thompson's "The New Policeman" won the children's book award.
British retail and leisure group Whitbread Group PLC announced last year that it would no longer sponsor the prizes, which were founded in 1971 and are open to residents of Britain and the Republic of Ireland. A search is under way for a new backer, reports the AP. N.U.