Three of the five 2011 Costa Book Award categories were won by debut authors Tuesday, while Booker Prize winner Julian Barnes lost out to Andrew Miller for the best novel honor.
Poet and first-time biographer Matthew Hollis scooped the Costa biography award for "Now All Roads Leads to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas" about the war poet who died in action during World War One.
Christie Watson, a children's nurse, was named 2011 debut novelist for "Tiny Sunbirds Far Away" about a Nigerian family forced to leave a comfortable urban life for poverty in the countryside.
And Moira Young won the children's book category for her first novel "Blood Red Road" set in a lawless future land where Saba sets out to find her missing twin brother.
In the novel category, Andrew Miller won with his sixth novel "Pure," beating Barnes whose "The Sense of an Ending" was the Booker Prize winner in October.
And poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy picked up the poetry prize with her latest collection "The Bees."
The winner of each category receives a cheque for 5,000 pounds ($7,800). The overall winner, who earns a further 30,000 pounds, is announced on January 24.
Since the introduction of the Book of the Year award in 1985, it has been won nine times by a novel, four times by a debut novel, five times by a biography, seven times by a collection of poetry and once by a children's book.
The 2010 Costa Book of the Year winner was "Of Mutability" by poet Jo Shapcott.